NCAA Tournament Betting Analysis: Michigan and North Carolina out of the Big Dance

NCAA Tournament Betting Analysis: Michigan and North Carolina out of the Big Dance

The 2023 NCAA Tournament won’t feel quite the same because two blue bloods, Michigan and North Carolina – who years ago played one of the most memorable national championship games in history (Chris Webber timeout game) – will not be Dancing after both lost in their conference tournament on Thursday. Now the question is whether either proud program would even accept an NIT bid.


Michigan, North Carolina To Miss NCAA Tournament; Will They Accept NIT Bid?


Michigan frankly should have beaten Rutgers on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament and led at the half but couldn’t find the basket in the second half and lost 62-50. Midway through the second half, Rutgers went on a 12-0 run that lasted more than five minutes to bring its one-point lead to 13 with five minutes remaining. The run was the deciding blow for Michigan, which only managed to get as close as 11 points down the stretch.

Hunter Dickinson scored 24 points for eighth-seeded Michigan, which had just one second-half field goal until the final minute. How is that even possible? Dickinson scored 20-plus points for the 14th time this season and the fourth game in a row.

U-M (17-15) was projected on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble before the game and now seems a virtual certainty to miss the Big Dance for the first time since 2015. Michigan has made it to each of the past five Sweet 16s.

The Wolverines should earn an invitation to the NIT, which begins March 14 with games on campus sites. But there’s precedent for teams — particularly larger programs whose goals included deep NCAA Tournament runs — to decline NIT invitations.

“Yes, they want to continue to keep playing. I want to see them playing, and I want to be out there coaching them in the postseason,” U-M coach Juwan Howard said following the loss to the Scarlet Knights. “We’ll go back home. We’ll talk about what’s the plan for the future, and we’ll go from there.”


If Michigan doesn’t accept a bid, Dickinson might have played his final game at the school as he could declare for the NBA Draft. Sophomore Kobe Bufkin and freshman Jett Howard are projected first-round picks and also may leave.

Howard frankly did a terrible job this season. Michigan will finish under .500 against opponents in the first three quadrants of the NCAA’s team sheets. Add in an embarrassing loss to a Central Michigan team that finished the year No. 328 in the NET, and it’s hard to chalk up this season as anything less than an abject disaster in Ann Arbor.

North Carolina of course was the national runner-up last season and was the preseason No. 1 in both polls for this season but will become the first such school to miss the Big Dance since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last preseason No. 1 team to miss the NCAA Tournament since NC State in 1974-75. UNC returned four starters from a team who was up 15 points at halftime of last year’s national title game.

The Heels were beaten by Virginia 68-59 on Thursday in the ACC Tournament. They took control of the game with a 9-0 run in the final two minutes after the Tar Heels had cut a 10-point deficit to 57-55. Caleb Love went off for 22 points in the blowout win over Boston College on Wednesday night but he was held to 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting by Virginia. He went scoreless in the first half, and didn’t hit his first field goal until the 8:54 mark in the second half.

Star Heels big man Armando Bacot played through an ankle injury and clearly wasn’t himself with just four points, three rebounds and three turnovers in 21 minutes. Plus-minus numbers aren’t always indicative of game performance, but Bacot was -16. North Carolina missed nine layups, shot 8 for 27 from 3-point range and shot just 33% from the field in the second half. The Tar Heels had just a single Quad 1 victory this year in 10 tries.

Following the loss, Bacot discussed the possibility of the Tar Heels accepting a bid to the NIT: “I would be capable of it, but interested? I don’t really know.” When asked how he would make that decision, Bacot said he’ll play “if that’s what coach tells us to do, but that’s not something I wanna do.”

The NIT field will be announced Sunday late night after the NCAA Tournament field. Teams that won their regular-season conference title but lost in the conference tournament get an automatic invite but that obviously doesn’t apply to either Michigan or North Carolina. If the Heels accept a bid, they probably would be a No. 1 seed in it and at least would get one more home game at a minimum as the first few rounds are on campus.


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