First things first, Michigan and Michigan State have not yet qualified for the NCAA basketball tournament, but most "experts" believe they will both make it in.

Who do you think will have a deeper run in the NCAA basketball tournament, Michigan or MSU?

Both Michigan and Michigan State finished the Big Ten season 10-8 and tied for fourth place with Northwestern and Iowa (before figuring in tiebreakers). Michigan was 20-11 overall and MSU finished 18-13.

The schools split their two meetings this year. Michigan State won in East Lansing 70-62 on January 29. Michigan won in Ann Arbor 86-57 on February 7.

Big Ten regular season statistical rankings from

  • Scoring: Michigan fifth. MSU 11th.
  • Defense: Michigan third. MSU 8th.
  • Free throws: Michigan first. MSU 12th.
  • 3-point shooting: Michigan second. MSU third.
  • Offensive rebounding: Michigan last. MSU 10th.
  • Defensing rebounding: Michigan second. MSU 5th.
  • Turnover margin: Michigan first. MSU 13th.

Most are guessing both schools make it in with Michigan at seeded 8 or 9 and Michigan State a 10 seed, but a quick out in the Big Ten tournament could spell trouble for Michigan State. MSU has lost their last two games and CBS Sports suggests, "the Spartans might not survive a three-game losing streak at the end of the season."

I would tend to agree. An opening round loss could have MSU missing the tournament for the first time in two decades, but one Big Ten tournament win and they're in. A First Four play-in game as an 11 or 12 seed could be an alternative landing spot for MSU, especially if they have a poor Big Ten tournament performance.

Really, you could put half of the teams in the Big Ten in the First Four play-in games as 11 or 12 seeds. There's a lot of parity in the league and it's hard to tell who's best since most have been inconsistent.

Michigan is probably locked into an 8 or 9 seed. Winning the conference tournament could move them up, otherwise I think they are set even if they have an opening round loss or a solid non-championship-winning Big Ten tournament run.

An 8 or 9 seed is a good place to start the tournament as you'll supposedly be playing against a similarly-skilled opponent, but an opening round win sets you up for a second round matchup against a 1 seed. A doable task for a hot-shooting Michigan team, but not one that's easy to bet on. The Wolverines will need to rely on good shooting and continuing their Big Ten-leading trends of hitting free throws and minimizing turnovers.

I'm picking Michigan to go further, but a potential early match-up with a 1 seed is tough and it's hard to bet against Tom Izzo if MSU gets into the tournament.

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