It was all set up for the Michigan Wolverines to control their own destiny for not just the Big Ten title but for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Indiana Hoosiers lost by four points last night to the Minnesota Golden Gophers and opened the door for schools like Michigan to possibly get at least a share of the conference crown.
Now, that dream of getting the share and possibly earning a No. 1 seed is crushed with their monumental 84-78 upset at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions tonight. In fact, Michigan could quite possibly drop their remaining three games as they have a rematch with their arch-rival Michigan State, who they lost to by 23 points a few weeks ago, then travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to take on the Purdue Boilermakers. Mackey Arena is a very tough venue and the Boilers match up well with Michigan.
Factor in the fact that Michigan hasn’t won a road game in literally a month as that came on Jan. 27 against a slumping Illinois team at the time and that makes the Purdue game is no easy guarantee.
Then, Michigan faces what will likely be the Big Ten Conference champions the Hoosiers in the season finale, which will be very tough as well.
This loss to Penn State is going to sting in more than one way. It doesn’t look good on a resume to lose to a winless team this late in the season as the Nittany Lions were 0-14 in conference play entering tonight. The selection committee considers how you’re playing towards the end of the season and weighs that heavily when determining seeding and location.
That’s why even if Michigan wins out, they won’t be considered for a top seed in the tournament. This is the equivalent if not worse than Kansas losing to TCU. The only difference is this one is this late in the season, when teams are supposed to be peaking. The Wolverines are in fact going the opposite direction.
Michigan has lost three of their last five games and barely beat this same Penn State team at home just a few games ago in one of their two wins.
If you go back two more games, Michigan is losers in four of their last seven and the only other win besides the Illinois home win and the home eight point Penn State win is a two point overtime victory against Ohio State in Crisler Arena.
One of the hardest things to do is get out of a losing slump, especially with a bad demoralizing loss like this one. Add in the intimidation and doubt factor heading into a rivalry game where, as I stated earlier, Michigan State owned Michigan by 23 points in East Lansing and the locker room isn’t a good situation right now. I’ve been there and seen these scenarios and most of the time they end in lengthy losing slides as teams struggle to get out of them.
Lets just say it’s not a good scenario to be in if you’re a Wolverine fan.