Though there is a cluster of bubble teams hovering around the .500 mark in the Big 10, and it's tempting to think about bids in terms of conferences, the committee has said time and time again that's not how it works. Teams get bids, not conferences.
At the request of umhoops.com, let's look at one of these teams: the Michigan Wolverines.Good
- 7 wins vs. RPI top 100 (7-9 overall)
- 3 road wins vs. RPI top 100 (best at #51 Michigan State)
- .500 vs. RPI top 200
- Conference record under .500
- 1 win vs. RPI top 50 (home win vs. #44 Harvard)
- Loss to #156 Indiana
Conference record is not the magic number many make it out to be. A losing conference record is more likely than not to keep a team out of the field, but a winning record certainly does not guarantee a spot.
In the 11 years of data I have, 62 of 416 teams (15%) in the six BCS conferences with a conference record (including conference tournament games) of .500 or better failed to make the field. (Another, Mississippi State, won the SEC tournament in 2009, but based on their #13 seed probably wouldn't have been selected at-large.)
On the other side, only 12 of 224 (5%) BCS conference teams with losing conference records and were selected at-large. Ten of those were only one game under .500.
The caveat with this, of course, is that it is more difficult with three extra at-large slots to compare hard thresholds like these with previous seasons.
Crashing the Dance currently has Michigan as the fifth team out. The Wolverines' profile is certainly not strong enough to survive a sub-.500 conference record, and unless one of their remaining wins is agasints Wisconsin, a 10-8 finish might be necessary to absorb an early Big 10 tourney loss.
For now, I say out.