2009 March Madness Matchup: Michigan Wolverines vs. Clemson Tigers Preview and Pick

No. 10 Michigan Wolverines (20-13) +5, 137.5 O/U vs. No. 7 Clemson Tigers (23-8)
Kansas City, M.O., Thursday, 7:10PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The first round of the NCAA Tournament is usually not the most compelling and exciting round in the Tournament considering there are many mismatches. However, in the South Bracket the No. 10 seeded Michigan Wolverines will battle No. 7 seeded Clemson Tigers in one of the most interesting first round match-ups on the board. Clemson started their year a perfect 16-0, but struggled a bit in the tough conference play within the ACC. Michigan had similar success early in the year before faltering down the stretch. However, both teams will get the chance to square off with the very likely possibility to take on Oklahoma in the second round of the Tournament.

Clemson is a very dangerous team that can be hot or cold on any given night. The Tigers offense is fueled off perimeter shooting meaning when they knock down their shots they can be very tough to defend. Clemson guards Terrence Oglesby and K.C Rivers are two sharp shooters that can get really hot from behind the arc. Both players are averaging right at 14 points per game and their ability to knock down shots will run parallel with Clemson success on the hardwood. Junior Trevor Booker has led the team all season inside the paint nearly averaging double-double type numbers and gives the Tigers an inside threat that must be guarded well. The Wolverines will have to play very sound defensive ball to take down Clemson in round one.

Michigan on the other hand plays quite the different style of basketball. While Clemson has a more quick offensive attack, the Wolverines will slow the ball down and try to attack the inside. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are the featured playmakers leading the Wolverine scoring attack. Harris leads the team averaging 17 points per game while Sims adds with 16 points per game as well. Both players are averaging 6.9 rebounds per game as Michigan is one of lowest rated rebounding teams in the country only averaging 30.9 boards per game. The Wolverines rank outside the top 300 in offensive boards and that is a big reason they have struggled this season. However, they will have a chance to overcome a talented Clemson team this Thursday night and pull off a respectable victory.

The books opened the betting line favoring the Clemson Tigers by just 5 points over the Michigan Wolverines in one of the closest expected spread totals on the board in the opening round. The over/under for the contest has been posted at the 137.5 mark.

Michigan as stated before will really have to play strong defense in this game if Clemson comes out firing. Perhaps their slower style of play could present Clemson some problems in terms of momentum. The Wolverines are only allowing 63 points per game on the defensive side of the ball which ranks right around the top 50 teams in the land. Michigan needs to keep the scoring low because a high scoring game would have to benefit Clemson.

Clemson is a team that can not afford to come out missing a lot of shots with a poor shooting performance which has really hurt them in games this season. The Tigers should be the best suited in this game due to their weapons on offense. The Tigers are the type of team that could really give the vulnerable Oklahoma Sooners loads of problems in round 2 with their offense. However, Clemson must get past the Wolverines on Thursday night before we start the upset talk this soon. This game should be great spectacle of two different styles of play and will be interesting to see who can prevail.

Betting Trends

Clemson is 1-4 ATS in the last 5 games and has reached the over total in 7 of the last 9 games. Michigan has won 4 of their last 5 games ATS while reaching the under total in 8 of their last 13 games.

Jays Pick Clemson offense propels them to strong first round showing.