Northwestern at Michigan Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/30/2013
If this game plays out at all like it should it won’t be close. Let’s get that out there to begin with. So why is a game like this worth discussing? Well, the Michigan Wolverines will be debuting their shiny No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll. The last time they were looking down on the rest of basketball world was during the 1992-93 season — the “Fab Five” era — and most of the stars of this current team weren’t even born yet. It has been a seemingly endless wait for the return to glory, but Michigan fans now feel it. Now it remains to be seen if the team can handle their lofty ranking with the same calm determination they have handled the rest of this season with the exception of the first half of their lone loss at Ohio State.
This pairing is also a very good reminder of just how quickly this Michigan team has rose to where they are. Last year the Wolverines won both meetings, but they needed overtime in each game. This year they are winning Big Ten games by an average of 18 points, and they won by 28 at Northwestern the first week of January. The steps Michigan has taken in just one season is almost impossible, and the two-year leap they have made should be impossible. That’s what happens when the recruiting gods strike you with lightning two years in a row, though.
Northwestern at Michigan Betting Storylines
Northwestern comes into this one with some inconsistent recent play. There have been highlights — they have beaten two ranked teams in their last four, including a convincing home win over a very good Minnesota team last week. The lows have been very low, though, with none lower than the totally inexplicable 15-point loss at Nebraska on Saturday. If you can’t win at Nebraska you are in tough winning at Michigan. It was mostly a matter of focus in that game after the Minnesota win, however. As Michigan showed in their Sunday win at Illinois, even a momentary lapse in focus will be turned into a big deficit in a hurry.
Opposing coaches have an almost impossible task designing a defense to counter Michigan — as the Wildcats found out last time. In Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas, they have four legitimate scoring threats. If you shut one down — and each has been contained to some extent at some point this year — then the others just step up. They are not just dangerous, but they are shockingly selfless given their talent. In the last meeting all four scored in double-digits — as they often do. If Northwestern can’t do much better than that then they are in a world of trouble.
Center Jordan Morgan also had a double-digit scoring night in that game. He’s not likely to here. He sprained his ankle early in the last Michigan game, and he is likely to be out for a while. In the past that would have been a crippling blow for the Wolverines, but post depth certainly isn’t a concern now. Freshman Mitch McGary leads the way, with Jon Horford and even redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt offering strong minutes as well. Morgan is the top defender on this Michigan squad, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that his injury provides a meaningful opportunity for Northwestern.
The problem for Northwestern boils down to one thing. The Wolverines are averaging 78.5 points per game, and they have the most efficient offense in the country. Northwestern has the 253rd ranked scoring offense in the country, and they are up against a solid defense here. Something would have to take a very unexpected turn for this one to be close.
Northwestern at Michigan College Basketball Odds and Betting Trends
Sportsbook.ag has Michigan installed as the 18-point favorite, as of our deadline for this article. Action is tilted towards the underdog at that price. The total opened at 130 and has moved upward to 131 or higher depending on the book.
Northwestern is actually a better betting team away from home (3-2 ATS) than at home (5-6 ATS). Michigan hasn’t lost at home yet — and haven’t really been threatened — but they are just 1-2-1 ATS in their last four in Crisler.
Northwestern at Michigan Picks and Betting Predictions
It’s all Michigan here. You could argue that the Wolverines could be saving themselves for their huge weekend trip to Indiana. I don’t buy it. Despite the fact their recent wins their last couple of games have been imperfect, I suspect John Beilein will have his team very focused on ironing out the issues heading into this one. That means a more consistent effort and sharper defense. This is a better Michigan team than the one that beat up on Northwestern the first time — more experienced, and more comfortable in their rotation. That combined with the home setting leads to a game that could be a runaway. It’s a lot of points to give up, but not too many.
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