Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Wolverines beat Sparty, keeping their dreams of a 1st round NCAA knockout alive

In what was not all that entertaining of a game, the Wolverines kept their slimmer than slim NCAA hopes alive. At this point, they're still on the bubble of being on the tournament bubble.

Sparty looked more than a little uninspired, which is surprising for a rivalry game. Maybe we should have seen this coming, considering Drew Neitzel was at death's door with the flu, and MSU had all the symptoms of suffering from an emotional hangover. Winning 2 very mentally draining, high energy home games against Wisconsin and Indiana seemed to take quite a bit out of the Spartans.

Michigan still doesn't look like a NCAA team. Beating MSU was about as close to a "Signature win" as Michigan has this year. But is winning at home, against an overachieving Spartan team that is a middling NCAA seed, in league where home court is an overwhelming advantage, a season defining win? No.

The Wolverines need to beat tOSU this weekend, getting their must have "Signature win," to even be considered for the NCAA's. Win a couple of games in the Big 10 tournament on top of that, and they'll be seriously considered, maybe even a lock. Realistically, a Michigan loss to the bucknuts leaves them having to win the Big 10 tournament as their only option of not getting 3 home games in the Tommy Amaker Invitational NIT.

Even with the loss to the Wolverines, I'm currently thinking the Spartans are till safely in the big boy's tournament. Winning their opening game in the Big 10 tourney should lock the Spartans into the NCAA postseason.

But if they lose to Wisconsin on the road this weekend (A definite possibility), and then get knocked out of the Big 10 tournament in the opening round, the Spartans may fall back to being one of those dreaded bubble teams.

It's going to be fascinating to watch how things fall into place over the final couple of weeks of the Big 10 season.

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