While they were a "bubble" team just a few days ago, the Michigan Wolverines will almost certainly get invited to the NCAA tournament. That's because they've reached the final of the Big 10 -- or is that 14? -- conference hoops tourney. Win or lose against Wisconsin, they've likely already played their way in to the big dance. Currently, they sit at an overall 23-11 record, 10-8 within the conference. Not eye-popping numbers by any means, but probably good enough. Will they go far? Probably not. Maybe the Sweet Sixteen, tops.
Michigan State was on the same bubble. They finished with the same 10-8 conference record, but got bounced early in the Big 10 tourney. Not good. Plus, they were a mediocre 19-14 overall. When they got drilled by Minnesota a few days ago, they likely played their way out. Some local kool-aiders say State's reputation should get them in. Pshaw. Reputation and a couple bucks will get you a small order of fries these days. And BTW, MSU's Nick Ward is a dirty player. Apparently a protege of Draymond Green, now of the Golden State Warriors. The difference? Ward likes to club opponents about their heads, while Dray-dray does his nasty business downstairs with thunderous kicks. Both come out of the Tom Izzo school of evident thuggery.
Another note on State. They have a young player named Harry Giles. The same kool-aiders have long deemed him a "one and doner". Well, this is his one, and he hasn't done anything remotely notable. (What's that? He can absolutely crush a fancy dunk shot on a breakaway? Well, hell's bells, why didn't you say so earlier? By all means give that boy a billion dollars and at least a hundred endorsements. Spare me, please.) Good grief, he's struggled to even stay healthy enough to play. Does anybody seriously think the pros are going to consider him some sort of prize?
To be fair, both schools have played more than their fair share of non-conference "patsy" games to pad their records.
The Green had earlier match-ups with the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, Miss Valley St., Oral Roberts, Youngstown St., Tenn Tech, and even Oakland University of the plankton Horizon League.
The Blue faced Howard, IUPUI (whatever that is), Mount St. Mary's, Kennesaw St., Central Arkansas, Maryland East Shore, and Furman. (Wow, that lying detective from the OJ trial got a university named after him?) At any rate, not exactly a murderer's row for either Michigan mega-universities. They should be ashamed of themselves. Boys, boys, how about picking on somebody your own size for a change?
But maybe their conference records of 10-8 pretty much sum it up. Both UM and MSU were just slightly above average in what appears to be a very mediocre Big 10.
Yet when the "bubble" eyes were upon them both, the Wolverines knocked off a couple decent opponents in Minnesota and Purdue (the regular-season conference champs).
Meanwhile the Spartans crashed and burned early in the conference tourney.
And that will likely spell the difference.