Michigan Basketball Now Projected By KenPom To Beat Wisconsin

Maybe things aren’t so bad for Michigan basketball. Advanced stats guru KenPom’s algorithm is choosing the Wolverines over Wisconsin on Thursday.

I’m still going to advise you to remain grounded in your expectations for Michigan basketball down the closing stretch of this season, but it’s definitely worth noting that KenPom’s algorithm favors the Wolverines over Wisconsin in their second meeting of the season on Thursday.

The first time these two met—you probably remember as a chance that slipped through Michigan’s fingers—the Wolverines had as high as a six-point lead with under seven minutes to play. They went on to lose by four.

That performance was impressive for a couple reasons. First, Michigan had to deal with Wisconsin big man Ethan Happ; he was contained to 11 points. Second, it was on the road. So few teams win at the Kohl Center. (Wisconsin is 13-1 at home this season.)

After completing the season sweep of Indiana on Sunday (Michigan beat the Hoosiers 165-123 this season, by the way), the Wolverines aren’t in terrible shape. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports put Michigan in his latest bracket projection as a No. 10 seed.

That’s one way to measure the direction a team’s heading, but there’s also the more complicated land of advanced statistics, used to both assess and predict performances. In Michigan’s case, this is also favorable, with KenPom projecting a 63-62 win over the Badgers on Thursday evening (7 p.m. EST, ESPN). According to the model, Michigan has a 52 percent of winning.

They will of course still play the actual game, and it may or may not be an accurate reflection of what statistics indicate will happen. (Keep in mind that KenPom is reputable for a reason, especially in the short term.)

This is a significant step in the right direction, and if Michigan can indeed beat Wisconsin on Thursday, you have to think its NCAA tournament chances would be hovering above 50 percent.

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