Michigan vs. Syracuse Picks and Final Four Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 4/6/2013
It was not a stretch back in January, near the beginning of conference play, to predict or suggest that Michigan and Syracuse would meet in the Final Four. At that point, Michigan was No. 1 in the nation while Syracuse was No. 4, cementing the perception that they were, in fact, two of the best teams in the country.
However, when the two venerable programs meet this weekend in Atlanta for the Final Four, I still get the impression that this matchup is somewhat of a surprise to prognosticators and media bobbleheads across the country.
No. 4 seed Michigan will tangle with No. 4 Syracuse at 8:40 p.m. EST on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in a national semifinal. The winner will advance to the National Championship Game on Monday in Atlanta.
Here is a breakdown of this weekend’s top matchup:
Michigan vs. Syracuse Betting Story Lines
The Wolverines began the season 20-1 before reaching the top spot in the country for the first time in 20 years. A late swoon – losing six of their last 12 games prior to the NCAA Tournament – made the Wolverines an afterthought. But their play in the Big Dance has them on track to cut down their first nets for nearly a quarter century.
Michigan blew out South Dakota State and VCU in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. They then used a miraculous comeback against powerhouse Kansas – Michigan was down 14 with just 6:50 to play and trailed by 10 points with 2:20 remaining – to propel into the Elite Eight. Michigan buried Florida to advance to its first Final Four since 1993.
National Player of the Year Trey Burke leads this Michigan squad. Burke averages 18.8 points and 6.8 assists per game. Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.6 points per game) and Nik Stauskas (11.6) give Burke capable running mates and exceptional scorers filling out the rest of the backcourt.
Center Mitch McGary has been peaking this March. The freshman center is averaging 17.5 points per game in the tournament – more than doubling his season average of 7.4. He joins forwards Glenn Robinson, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford to give the Wolverines a deep and athletic frontcourt.
But while Burke and Hardaway may comprise one of the best backcourts in the nation, there is certainly a case to be made of Syracuse and its dynamic backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche.
Carter-Williams is a sure-fire lottery pick and dominated SU’s wins over Indiana and Marquette. He averages 12 points, five rebounds and eight assists per game and is nearly unstoppable going to the basket. Williams can be turnover prone at times and is not a very good shooter. But when he is going well the Orange are tough to stop.
Senior Brandon Triche is one of the most talented players in the country and chips in 13.7 points per game. He is a four-year starter and has played in the most wins in school history. However, Triche has never shown the fire, passion and aggressiveness to take his game to the next level. This is his final chance.
Syracuse has won its four NCAA Tournament games by an average of 20 points per game. They have won seven of eight postseason games this March and are one of the hottest teams in the nation.
The Orange have held two of their four tournament opponents below 40 points thanks to their incomparable 2-3 zone. The length, athleticism, and scheme of the SU zone makes it unlike any defense in the nation, and the Orange are No. 3 in the country in field goal defense. They are No. 21 in scoring defense and No. 3 in three-point defense as well.
Michigan is one of the most efficient scoring teams in the nation. Syracuse’s 2-3 will eliminate the man-to-man sets that the Wolverines run. So this game is going to come down to Michigan’s execution against the zone and their ability to make contested shots.
Defensively, the Wolverines have been a solid man-to-man team. But I would be very surprised if Michigan didn’t mix in some of its 1-3-1 zone or some other quirky defense to throw a different look at the Orange.
Michigan vs. Syracuse Final Four Betting Odds and Key Trends
Surprisingly, this game opened with Michigan as a 2.5-point favorite. The line has been bet down to -2.0 despite the fact that the action is essentially even in this game. The total is firm at 131.0 with the money split 50-50 on the “over” and “under”.
Michigan is 4-0 ATS this year in its NCAA Tournament games. They are also 4-1 ATS in their last five games against teams from the Big East. The Wolverines have played over in 12 of 16 neutral site games and they have gone over in five of seven nonconference games.
Syracuse is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 nonconference games. They are also 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games and their last seven games against a team with a winning record. Jim Boeheim is a sparkling 9-0 straight up in his last nine games against John Beilein, including 1-0 against him at Michigan.
Michigan vs. Syracuse Picks and Betting Predictions
Michigan should not scare Syracuse. Big, physical, interior oriented teams are the type that gives the Orange problems. The Orange struggle with teams that are willing to throw body blows at the interior of their SU’s 2-3 zone, and teams that pound them on the interior on both ends of the court. Michigan is the exact opposite of that type of team.
Syracuse has been bigger, stronger, and more athletic than about 90 percent of the teams they have faced this year. And I think that’s the case here with the Wolverines. Michigan can cause some problems with its guard play and perimeter abilities. But they can’t hammer the Orange on the inside. So if the Wolverines think that they can just float around the perimeter and knock down enough three-point shots to win this game, I think they are kidding themselves.
I thought that Michigan’s blowout of Florida meant that Syracuse would be a three- or four-point favorite in this national semi as opposed to a five- or six-point chalk. I think it is ridiculous that Michigan is favored in this game, and I think Syracuse is the better team. I will absolutely take the points and look for Syracuse to advance.
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors over $16,000 in the last two seasons. Another strong card is coming today and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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