Bracketology Bubble Tracker: High stakes for Michigan-Wisconsin

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Michigan and Wisconsin have a lot at stake beyond the Big Ten standings Sunday. Michigan has been hovering around the First Four portion of my bracket for a while, while the Badgers have just recently climbed above that group.

Bracketology

Jerry Palm’s projected bracket

Wisconsin has a unique tournament resume. Few teams ever get at-large bids with the collection of bad losses they accumulated, mostly in non-conference play. Losses at home to Milwaukee, Marquette and Western Illinois have been a drag on them all season. They have countered that in league play with wins at Iowa and Maryland and at home over Indiana and Michigan State. This game is important because it’s a game the Badgers should win at home.

For Michigan, it’s even more important because it’s a chance to add a quality win to it’s not very impressive total, and it would also be the Wolverines’ first quality win on the road. Michigan doesn’t have a bad loss yet, but it has a lot of them. A loss to Wisconsin would give the Wolverines 10 total and drop them to 10-10 vs the RPI top 200. A win here would relieve some pressure on the season finale against Iowa.

Here’s a look at how the Badgers and Wolverines compare as they battle for one of the last at-large spots in the field of 68.

 (CBS Sports)

Click here for the full comparison or to compare any two teams head-to-head.

SUNDAY’S DOUBLE-BUBBLE GAME:

MICHIGAN AT WISCONSIN

  • Wolverines’ status: On the fence | Record: 20-9, 10-6 Big Ten | RPI: 53 | SOS: 60
  • Badgers’ status: In for now | Record: 18-10, 10-5 Big Ten | RPI: 36 | SOS: 9

OTHER BUBBLE TEAMS IN ACTION SUNDAY:

PITTSBURGH: W 76-62 vs. Duke

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 20-8, 9-7 ACC | RPI: 48 | Strength of schedule: 41

Pitt finally got the signature win it has been lacking this season with a 76-62 win at home over Duke. That is just the second top 50 win for the Panthers, joining a road win over Notre Dame earlier this season. That’s a big addition to the Panthers’ tournament profile.

CONNECTICUT: L 75-68 vs. Houston

  • Status: In for now
  • Record: 20-9, 10-6 AAC | RPI: 42 | Strength of schedule: 68

UConn lost at home to Houston 75-68, dropping the Huskies to sixth place in the American conference. The thing keeping them down in the bracket is their inability to play well against the better teams in the league. They are currently 3-6 against the top five teams in the league. The problem is, one of those isn’t an at-large team and three others are on the bubble with them.

TULSA: L 92-82 at Memphis

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 19-10, 11-6 AAC | RPI: 35 | Strength of schedule: 36

Tulsa picked up its second bad loss of the season, losing at Memphis on Sunday. The Golden Hurricane were among the last four in the bracket this morning, so this loss comes at a bad time. Tulsa has been a home court hero against better opposition, with the notable exception of the win at SMU.

SETON HALL: W 90-81 vs. Xavier

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 21-7, 11-5 Big East | RPI: 39 | Strength of schedule: 70

Seton Hall has added a signature win to its tournament profile and did so in emphatic fashion. The Pirates beat Xavier 90-81 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. It is easily the Hall’s best win of the season. They still have a couple road games left, including at Butler, but things are much more comfortable for the Pirates this afternoon.

USC: at California, 8 p.m. ET

  • Status: In for now
  • Record: 19-9, 8-7 Pac-12 | RPI: 38 | Strength of schedule: 47

The Trojans have hit the skids and now find themselves on the bubble. I don’t think they are in danger of falling out yet, but they have lost four out of five and now travel to Berkeley, where Cal hasn’t lost all year. They also have the Oregon teams at home next week, and those will be dangerous games too.

OREGON STATE: vs. Washington State, 6:30 p.m. ET

  • Status: In for now
  • Record: 16-10, 7-8 Pac-12 | RPI: 30 | Strength of schedule: 1

If there is such a thing as a sure thing in the Pac-12, it’s beating Washington State. Oregon State has a decent collection of wins, but sits just five games above .500 at 15-10 overall. That’s not the greatest, and it means that losing to the Cougars would be worse than merely being a bad loss. It could damage their record to the point of maybe not being able to make the NCAA tournament.

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