Michigan fans must be hoping that the Wolverines are not gazing past tonight’s game to Sunday’s epic Main Event clash in Columbus. So far, the Wolverines have passed all tests and this one presents a golden college hoops betting opportunity.
- Rutgers at Michigan -9, Total 137, Thursday, 9 pm ET
- Action: Michigan -9
It’s quite a testament to coaching neophyte Juwan Howard—and his exceptional staff, highlighted by veteran boss Phil Martelli—that his squad can miss more than three weeks due to virus protocols but return to action without seemingly missing a beat.
The Wolverines were 19-12 when it all came to a halt a year ago, Howard’s maiden season that got off to a rousing beginning but was hindered by four consecutive defeats. They had dropped three of four when the world shuttered.
This time, they were 13-1 when the halt arrived. Four games were postponed. Yet, on Sunday, Michigan reported to the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., as a 1-point underdog and won, 67-59. For a team with potentially questionable road sea legs, the Wolverines outscored the Badgers 21-8 over the final 10 minutes to secure the victory.
|William Hill||Point Spread||Totals|
|Rutgers||+9 (-110)||O 137 (-110)|
|Michigan||-9 (-110)||U 137 (-110)|
Many have rightfully been trumpeting Michigan, which is 12-3 against the spread, one of five programs that has covered at a rate of at least 80%.
Home Sweet Home
Crisler Arena is cozy to the Wolverines, who make 52.9% of their shot attempts in their own building. Only 10 teams shoot better inside their own barns. Michigan averages 82.5 points at home, while Rutgers averages 65.4 points outside of Jersey.
Much of the evidence suggests this is a sweet spot for the Wolverines. Crisler has not been kind to the Scarlet Knights. They last visited Ann Arbor four seasons ago, losing 62-47. Their two other ventures resulted in 68-57 and 79-69 defeats.
At their élite conference foes, Rutgers has stumbled this season, losing 80-68 at Ohio State, 68-45 at Michigan State (typically upper echelon if not this go-round) and 79-66 at Iowa.
Rutgers doesn’t take many shots beyond the 3-point arc, and only eight teams in the country fare worse at the free-throw line than the Scarlet Knights, who shoot a woeful 61.6% at the stripe.
It isn’t common for one team to have an advantage of 15 percentage points over an opponent at the line, but that’s Michigan—at 76.7%.
The best part of the visitors’ game is 2-point shooting, where they’re at 52.5%. So it’s a grand pity for them that that is precisely what Michigan does best, limiting opponents to a national-low 40.3% marksmanship within the arc.
Hurting, Not Helping
Junior forward Ron Harper is a talent for Rutgers, but he’s been erratic lately and he lowlights the squad’s Achilles heel. Three of his past five games have been single-digit outings in points, and in those five he has missed all of his 19 attempts from 3-point land.
Sure, shooters shoot, but that’s ridiculous. Settle down, son, and bring your game within 15 feet of the rim. You will benefit—more important, so will your teammates.
The Kid From Kalamazoo
Michigan will be buoyed by contributions from Isaiah Livers (15 ppg, 6.1 rpg). The 6-foot-7, 235-pound senior from Kalamazoo tallied only one 2-point basket in the Wolverines’ lone loss of the season, at Minnesota. He recorded 11 points, the lowest output of his past six games.
That was no astounding upset, though, as the Golden Gophers sport one of the country’s widest disparities between home and road success over the past eight seasons.
Livers hits 45.7% of his 3-point attempts and a gaudy 91.9% of his free throws, and we will joust with anyone who places more maize-and-blue importance on Hunter Dickinson.
A 7-1 freshman, Dickinson is ninth on Ken Pomeroy’s Player of the Year rating system. He averages 14.9 points and 7.7 boards. He turns it over too much, but he does block nearly two shots a game and he makes exactly two-thirds of the shots he attempts.
This should be a warm-up to what’s in store for Michigan this weekend.