Michigan is making its push for a double-bye in next week’s Big Ten tournament, dumping Penn State on Wednesday night, 72-63, in Happy Valley.
It’s the No. 17 Wolverines’ fourth straight victory in a streak that also includes a resounding win over then-No. 8 Ohio State. And, while Michigan still needs some help to secure a No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament, it appears the Wolverines are strengthening their standing for the NCAA Tournament.
Not so fast?
Resident ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi dropped Michigan (23-7) one spot to a No. 6 seed in his most recent NCAA bracket, revealed Thursday, after bumping up the Wolverines two spots to a No. 5 seed in Monday’s bracket.
Lunardi has Michigan in the South, playing in Wichita, Kan. The kicker for Michigan fans might be the potential Round of 64 matchup Lunardi has slotted for the Wolverines — facing the winner of a play-in game between Louisville and St. Bonaventure.
Obviously, Michigan and Louisville have a history — most recently clashing in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 last season (a 73-69 Michigan victory) and most famously in the 2013 NCAA title game, won by Louisville, but vacated just Tuesday amid a sex-scandal case.
Michigan State, meanwhile, remains a No. 2 seed in Lunardi’s most recent bracket, though he’s moving the Spartans much closer to home, playing at Little Caesars Arena against No. 15 seed UC Santa Barbara in the West regional, with the winner of Trae Young-led and No. 10 seed Oklahoma and No. 7 seed Houston on deck.
MSU opened against Wright State in Pittsburgh in Lunardi’s bracket released Monday.