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UM trending in right direction, but NCAA bid no lock

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and A.J. Hammons get tied up going for the ball during Michigan's loss in the Big Ten tournament on Saturday.

Ann Arbor -- Two high-profile bracketology experts now have Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, after a weekend of going back and forth.

CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has the Wolverines an 11 seed opening against Dayton in Providence, while ESPN's Joe Lunardi also has them an 11 seed but opening with a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, against San Diego State.

San Diego State, of course, is coached by former Michigan coach Steve Fisher.

Michigan (22-12) had a nice run in the Big Ten tournament, beating top-seeded Indiana, to improve its odds of making the NCAA Tournament, after missing it last year.

Still, things still aren't sold for Michigan ahead of Sunday night's Selection Show.

Palm, speaking to The Detroit News on Sunday afternoon, said there are 11 "bubble" teams fighting for the final five spots, including Michigan.

If Memphis beats Connecticut in the American Athletic Championship game, that means only four spots are available.

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"This is the perfect year for a 64-team bracket," Palm told The News. "Four teams are going to get in that don't deserve it."

Palm said going against Michigan is its record against top-100 opponents in the RPI. Michigan has gone 4-12 in those games. Palm said that would be the worst-record, percentage-wise, that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has taken.

Palm also called the four wins "the bare minimum" for an at-large team.

Michigan coach John Beilein, though, argued after Saturday's loss to Purdue in the Big Ten tournament semifinals that almost all of those games really have been against top-25 opponents in the RPI.

"That's not nothing," Palm said.

All 11 bubble teams have things on their resumes that work against them, Palm said.

In Michigan’s favor, Palm said, is that it has only lost one game to a team at the back end of the top 100, Ohio State, and that was on the road.

Palm also said Michigan gets bonus points for the fact that of its four signature wins, two -- Texas and Indiana -- were away from home, on a neutral court. In the case of the win over Indiana on Friday, the Hoosiers had the overwhelming support of the crowd in Indianapolis.

Michigan players and coaches will watch the Selection Show in the team's film room, starting at 5:30 p.m.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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