The soft schedule that John Beilein has enjoyed the past two weeks came to an end with Michigan beating Penn State yesterday, 79-72. That completes their four-game win-streak that was predicted by us in this article. Keep this in mind when Beilein's team pops up with votes in the Associated Press rankings on Monday. Four consecutive wins was the most likely outcome based on the weak opposition. But now the sledding gets a bit tougher for the Wolverines.
UM will host Indiana and Michigan State this week, with both opponents ranked in the Top 25. Michigan hasn't faced a team ranked in the Top 100 since losing to Iowa on January 17. Penn State and Nebraska rank between #100 and #200, while Minnesota and Rutgers are listed below #200 in the country. Here's the UM margin of victory against the four teams they played during the last two weeks:
- Beat #111 Penn State by 7 points
- Beat #155 Nebraska by 13 points
- Beat #212 Minnesota by 5 points
- Beat #218 Rutgers by 11 points
To sum it up:
Michigan just beat four teams ranked an average of
#174 by an average of 9 points per game.
The Wolverines are one game ahead of our prediction for their regular season finish, which we said would be Bubble-status, with a 10-8 record. They broke our pattern by beating Maryland, but they still need four wins in these nine remaining games to stay inside the Bubble heading into the conference tournament:
- #19 INDIANA
- #12 MICHIGAN STATE
- @ MINNESOTA
- #21 PURDUE
- @ OHIO STATE
- @ #8 MARYLAND
- @ WISCONSIN
- #3 IOWA
We won't be making predictions on every game, but a macro-view suggests that Michigan will be skating on thin ice against all five ranked teams, making the other four "must-win games". But three of those four games are on the road, leaving only one "gimme" on the list (Northwestern).
To sum it up:
UM may be favored in only one of its last nine games.
The other eight are either on the road, or
against a team ranked in the AP Top 25.
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