NEW YORK — Michigan entered the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 5 seed and fifth-seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest projection.
The Wolverines have certainly bolstered their resume by winning four games in four days — for the second straight year — to capture the conference tournament crown.
Are they a No. 4 seed now? Did they play themselves to a 3? Freshman Isaiah Livers surely thinks so.
“I’m not really good at this seeding stuff,” a soaked Livers told Land of 10 from the locker room, the scene of a celebration just minutes prior. “What were we coming in? A five? I would love to be in the top three. We beat the [top teams in the Big Ten]. I want to be in the top three.”
Have to think Purdue could still be a No. 2 seed. Michigan could be a No. 4. MSU a No. 2. Ohio State a No. 5. We shall see. Big Ten looking for its first national title since Michigan State cut down the nets in the Hoosier Dome in 1999-2000.
— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) March 5, 2018
That’s a realistic goal, especially considering Michigan beat the first- and third-place teams in the Big Ten — Michigan State and Purdue — on back-to-back days.
The seeding may be important, but it’s also an unknown at this time. Several conference tournaments have yet to be played, and Selection Sunday is still 6 days away. What matters most to this team, though, is the fact they proved to themselves and the selection committee they can play and beat any team in the country when they play to their potential.
“We feel like we could stick our nose in there with anybody,” senior Duncan Robinson said.
For the Big Ten’s perceived lack of success as a conference this season, Michigan is the only team to beat all 13 other programs in the league this year.
“We’ll see come Selection Sunday where we’re matched up,” Robinson said. “We have a strong belief in ourselves and each other. We’ll certainly be ready for whoever we got.
“We’ll leave it up to the committee. There’s a week left, so there’s a lot of moving pieces still.”
Robinson then offered a golf analogy to sum up his opinion on where the Wolverines deserve to be seeded.
“We’re in the clubhouse, I guess you could say,” he said.
Michigan may not be a top two line NCAA tournament seed but the Wolverines are playing as well as any team in the country. Oh, and it’s pretty clear now that John Beilein is one of the game’s greatest active coaches.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 4, 2018
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who earned first-team all-tournament honors, claims to have not checked out any potential matchups heading into the weekend. He does, however, have a destination in my mind and it just happens to be the city Lunardi’s old projection had the Wolverines headed.
“I would like to be in San Diego, in California, warm weather, opposed to Michigan, the cold,” he said. “But for wherever we go, I’ll be fine with.”
So Abdul-Rahkman would prefer the sun in San Diego over, say, a home crowd in Detroit?
“That would be tough,” he said. “I don’t know. Either-or would be fine. I know a lot of fans would be in Detroit, but the warm weather is in San Diego.”
Abdul-Rahkman said he won’t pay too much attention to the bracketology talk surrounding the Wolverines. He’ll watch his friends on other teams playing this week, and stick to playing Call of Duty and Fortnite during the longer-than-usual layoff between the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan coach John Beilein, in his postgame news conference, answered diplomatically to a bracketology question.
“The NCAA, I’m sure, will put us in a good bracket,” Beilein said. “And we’ll do everything we can to win one practice at a time, leading up to that one game at a time.
And if we’re still around in San Antonio,” he continued, “we’d be delighted.”