The Michigan men’s basketball team is going dancing.
After blowing a 17-point lead to Indiana and losing in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, the Wolverines were holding their collective breath to see if they would make the NCAA Tournament.
After hearing their name in the selection show, Michigan was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The Wolverines earned an at-large bid as a No. 11 seed in the Tournament and will take on No. 6 seed Colorado State on Thursday at 12:15 EST, kicking off the round of 64. Michigan was placed in the South region and will travel to Indianapolis for its first round matchup. Should they advance, they’ll take on either No. 3 seed Tennessee or No. 14 seed Longwood on Saturday.
“It’s a new season now,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “This is the postseason. We have a few days to prepare and we’re going to work on some things that we feel that we can improve on to prepare us to face our opponent on Thursday.”
After coming into the year with the sky-high expectations, the Wolverines have endured a hit and miss season. They pulled off some impressive victories including wins over Purdue and Iowa, but have also failed to win two games in a row in over a month. The latest loss to the Hoosiers left Michigan in a vulnerable position, sitting on the bubble with no more games to improve its resume.
But despite its mediocre 17-14 record, the Wolverines were able to squeak in thanks to some metrics that pulled in their favor. They had the No. 5 strength of schedule, five quadrant one victories and ranked 34th in the NET which helped keep Michigan on the right side of the bubble.
“We’re not the team that everybody thought we were gonna be at the start of the season,” sophomore center Hunter Dickinson said. “But I feel like we still have that talent that everybody saw from the beginning of the season. Just that raw, natural talent that really makes us a dangerous team in the tournament.”
Now their attention turns to the Rams. Colorado State went 25-5 and finished second in the Mountain West this season, and are led by guard David Roddy — who averages 19.4 points per game and shoots 45.5% from 3.
“I don’t know much about them,” Howard said when asked about the Rams. “But if you asked me this question tomorrow, then I will know a lot about Colorado State.”
After losing to Indiana, Howard sat at the podium and was ready to leave the team’s fate in the selection committee’s hands.
“Our guys put themselves in the position to have an opportunity,” Howard said then. “And I’m going to pray, prayer wards are going to be open. I’m going to wait on Sunday with my players and see where the chips fall at the end.”
As the Wolverines name popped up in the bracket, those prayers were certainly answered.