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Michigan-Indiana match critical for both teams

A look at Thursday for the bubble teams chasing NCAA Tournament bids:

GAME OF THE DAY

Michigan coach Juwan Howard returns from a five-game suspension when the Wolverines face Indiana in Indianapolis in a Big Ten Tournament game with major ramifications for both teams.

Michigan (17-13) entered BracketMatrix.com as the No. 10 average of several projected groups across the country on Wednesday. Indiana (18-12) was one of the best teams expected to lose the 68-team field according to the BracketMatrix.com average.

The Wolverines helped their cause by finishing the regular season with a 75-69 victory on the road over the then n. 23 State of Ohio. That marked assistant coach Phil Martelli’s last game replacing Howard, who was suspended after his open hand hit Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the head while they were both in the handshake line after the game.

Announcement

Michigan’s curriculum also includes an 80-62 victory over Indiana, who have lost their last nine games in this series. The Hoosiers are likely to have to beat Michigan and perhaps do even more damage in the Big Ten Tournament to try an NCAA bid.

EQUIPMENT FOR SALE

Florida and Texas A&M: Here’s another bubble-clash. Neither Florida (19-12) nor Texas A&M (20-11) can afford a loss when facing a Southeastern Conference Tournament match in Tampa, Florida. Texas A&M has won four in a row.

Notre Dame: How bad has the Atlantic Coast Conference been this season? Note that Notre Dame (22-9) has won the second seed in the ACC Tournament and is still unsure of a higher bid. The Irish wrestlers should be in good shape as long as they beat Virginia Tech on Thursday. But a loss could put them at risk.

Announcement

Wyoming: The Cowboys (24-7) were one of the last four teams on the field as of Wednesday according to the BracketMatrix.com average. They must now face UNLV at the home of the Rebels in a Mountain West quarterfinals. Wyoming lost 64-57 in Wyoming on March 2.

UP AND FALL

Virginia Tech (20-12) kept its high hopes alive by beating Clemson 76-75 with a Darius Maddox triple in overtime. The Hokies can really help in their case by beating Notre Dame in an ACC quarterfinals. … Virginia (19-12) is another ACC bubble team that has advanced as the Cavaliers defeated Louisville 51-50. Virginia still has more work to do and the next one is facing North Carolina. … Oregon (19-13) beat Oregon State 86-72 in a game they should probably win in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Ducks will likely have to win more games this week to make a realistic bid. … Wake Forest (23-9) and Xavier (18-13) have reason to worry after suffering impressive overtime defeats at the start of their respective conference tournaments. Wake Forest (23-9) had a 10-point lead in the final six minutes of regulation and lost 82-77 to Boston College (7-14). Wake Forest had defeated Boston College 87-57 during the regular season. Xavier fell 89-82 to Butler and lost six of his last seven games. Xavier led by six with less than 50 seconds left in regulation, but was 1 of 7 on the free-kick line at the last minute. The Musketeers missed their last five free throws during that stretch, and finished 13 of 29 on the line. “When you don’t control your own destiny, I mean, you’re constantly nervous. Put a pit in your stomach,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said. “I’m hoping to be on it because I think we’re a team that can move forward and really do some damage in the NCAA Tournament.”

Announcement

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AP Sports writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.

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Michigan-Indiana match critical for both teams

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