Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Michigan on top, Spartans tough task among key questions

Feb 25, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard and the bench reacts during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard and the bench reacts during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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NCAA Basketball Michigan Wolverines Juwan Howard Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball Michigan Wolverines Juwan Howard Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re just under two weeks away from NCAA Basketball’s Selection Sunday and there are still plenty of questions being asked. There’s a new topic ask well, brought up after Baylor’s loss on the road last Saturday against Kansas. The result allowed the Michigan Wolverines to move up to No. 2 in the polls, behind No. 1 and still unbeaten Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Michigan is the new “darling” among the national conversation. Could they be the true No. 1 team in the country and favorite to cut down the nets in April? That’s one of five questions this week for Busting Brackets’ latest roundtable. Here are the other four as well, along with our participating contributors.

Anthony Brown – @ABrownSports

Andrew Tineo – @D_Tineo4

Benjamin Zacher – @beezacher

Jacob Zinkula – @1PerfectBracket

Chris Thedinga – @CThedinga

Jacob Stevenson – @stevejac002

1. Is Michigan your pick to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament?


No, Michigan is really good but I’ve kinda been Gonzaga until proven otherwise the whole season and I’m too committed to change.


Michigan is not my pick to win the Tournament as I do not have one. This year more than ever, the national consensus is that it’s “Gonzaga vs. The Field” or “Baylor & Gonzaga vs. the Field” or now, it’s “Gonzaga & Michigan vs. The Field”. Yet, people are forgetting that March Madness is among the most bizarre, unique, and unpredictable events in all of American sports, professional or collegiate.

One of the prime examples of giving a team a national championship was Duke in 2018-2019. The team was led by three of the top five draft picks, and a generational talent in Zion Williamson. Yet, that team underperformed in the NCAA Tournament and finished in the Elite Eight. Whether that be to youth or a lack of consistent three-point shooters, the team was heralded to be the favorite to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Each of the top three teams has its fair share of flaws. Even with Gonzaga’s impressive run, they have not played a ranked team since December, and playing quality teams consistently will be new. Even against those below-average teams, the Bulldogs have a tendency to get off the slow starts against those teams. With Baylor, an elite frontcourt player with size and COVID has plagued the Bears.

For Michigan, they still have a few teams ahead and are among the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers and fouling. Although those are very minor categories, having those add up against a team that can capitalize on those issues could stir trouble.


Not yet.  I would be shocked if Michigan doesn’t make the Final Four at all, and – until Baylor finally looks like pre-pause Baylor – I think the Wolverines have a better shot at winning the national championship than the Bears.  I just can’t ignore Gonzaga, though – nor should anyone, even with the constant complaints about how “easy” the Bulldogs’ schedule has been in the WCC.

It’s just impossible to go against what Gonzaga has done.  This isn’t the same WCC as we have seen in the last few years – Saint Mary’s and San Francisco’s struggles are evidence of that – but there is still BYU, which is right on the cusp of a top-25 ranking, and the Bulldogs have still only had one game come down to single-digits.  Those wins over Kansas, West Virginia, and Iowa have aged extremely well.

Michigan is excellent, obviously, and – other than that road loss to Minnesota back in January, which, contrarily, has not aged well at all – their romp through the Big Ten has obviously not been a fluke.  But until someone can actually hang around with Gonzaga – or, if a team knocks them off in the WCC Tournament – then there is no way I can pick against the Bulldogs right now.


In just a few weeks, the Wolverines have gone from “a clear tier below Gonzaga and Baylor” to “maybe in the same tier” to “definitely in the same tier” to “maybe the best team in the sport.” While I definitely believe Michigan belongs in the top tier, Gonzaga is still my pick to win it all.

The Bulldogs have arguably been the best team all season, and it’s hard to find a single predictive metric that disagrees. Mark Few’s program came up just short of a title in 2017, but this feels like the year they cut down the nets.


Michigan is my pick to win the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga is going to bulldoze their bracket path with ease.  I think a Michigan-Gonzaga matchup would be must-see TV. I would love for Juwan Howard to win a national championship. A former member of the Fab Five returning to coach his alma mater and winning the whole thing is an excellent story arch. Plus, I watch Jalen and Jacoby would be lit. He would be fired up.

The must-see matchup within that championship game would be Drew Timme vs. Hunter Dickinson. They have been two of the best big men in college basketball this year, so I’d like to see them go at it in the post.

I feel like Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers would have to play better than Dickinson. The Wolverines couldn’t depend on him to lead the way. Mark Few would find a way to neutralize him. They’d have to get offense from multiple places.

The Wolverines would have their hands full trying to defend Jalen Suggs and Jay Ajayi, but it would be fun to see how the Michigan guards respond.

If this does happen, I like Michigan to come out on top by five points or fewer. It would be a heavyweight for sure.


Short answer, no. Michigan is a very good basketball team, but I will likely not have them even reaching the Final Four. I know, I know, hot take. There’s not a whole lot to dislike, but having the capability of getting steamrolled by a very mediocre Minnesota team simply won’t exit my mind. Plus, shot quality tracking shows that the Wolverines are due for a bit of regression down the stretch. (Great, now I’ll have 75 Michigan fans in my Twitter DM’s)