Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines Pick
Indiana Hoosiers (12-2 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (14-0 SU, 6-8ATS)
When: Sunday, January 6, 2019 – 4:30 PM ET
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.
By: Dan Jamison, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IND +8/MICH -8 (Youwager Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 135.5
Last Time Out: Indiana beat Illinois 73-65; Michigan handled Penn State 68-55.
Scouting the Hoosiers:
For Indiana, getting good shots has been the name of the game. The Hoosiers aren’t the kind of team that puts up big numbers from behind the arc or gets a lot of second-chances with their work on the glass, but they still score 79 points a game because they don’t take dumb risks with the basketball. Indiana is second in the nation only to Gonzaga in field goal percentage, hitting 52.9 percent of its shots and riding the duo of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan to great success. In fact, all five of Indiana’s top scorers shoot at least 60 percent from the floor, making the Hoosiers a difficult matchup for most defenses.
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Scouting the Wolverines:
What Indiana is on offense, Michigan is on defense. One opponent after another has made themselves look absolutely silly against the Wolverines’ defense, as only South Carolina has even broken 70 points against Michigan this season. The Wolverines have since followed that game by holding its past three opponents in the 50s, including a dominant performance against Penn State where Michigan held the Nittany Lions to just seven percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc. The Wolverines are a composed, patient team that doesn’t play any faster than necessary, and it’s pretty common for frustration to play into the situation and compound the defensive struggles for Michigan’s opponents.
The freshmen. Romeo Langford has become Indiana’s best player as a freshman, but Ignas Brazdeikis has been just as valuable to Michigan’s offense. This will be the biggest test either has faced in the young Big Ten season, and it’s likely that whichever one wins the battle is going to be on the winning side of the equation. For Brazdeikis, winning the battle can come in two forms: outscoring Langford or holding him below his season average. If both players wind up in single digits, it’s going to be much more difficult for Indiana to be on the winning side than it will for Michigan.
Indiana Will Cover if:
The Hoosiers can use Michigan’s game plan against it. Michigan’s game is built on patience and making its opponents make the wrong decisions, while Indiana prides itself on making smart decisions on offense. The Wolverines’ tendency to play slow and take their time on their possessions can work against them if Indiana is able to match them shot for shot, and the Hoosiers are the type of team that actually can stand up to Michigan’s defense and have a chance to win that chess match.
Michigan Will Cover if:
The Wolverines can get off to a good start and build a lead early. Indiana’s offense is built around good looks and two-point baskets, not 3-pointers. That means that while the Hoosiers are built to succeed on a consistent basis, they’re not built to come back from a major deficit. If Michigan can frustrate the Hoosiers in the first half and get a good lead, Indiana’s going to have to come up with a new game plan on the fly — and that’s never an easy thing when you’re on the road against a team as good as Michigan.
Dan’s Basketball Pick to Cover the Spread:
Both of these teams have been a nightmare to deal with against the spread, as both have a losing record taking on the bookmaker’s number this season. But in terms of the wins that they care about, both have been as consistent as it gets, with Indiana winning seven straight and Michigan perfect through 14 games.
So in a situation like this, it’s best to look at their schedules and look into how good their wins really are. In this case, both teams have a common opponent in Penn State, and it’s that game that’s going to guide me in how to pick this game. In particular, I’m looking at their turnover numbers. Penn State knows how to play defense well, but the Nittany Lions’ defensive successes come from holding shot percentages down rather than forcing a ton of turnovers. Against Michigan, Penn State forced just 10 turnovers, compared to 16 from Indiana.
The fact that the Hoosiers couldn’t take care of the ball against a poor man’s version of Michigan leads me to believe that things aren’t going to go any better when they face the real thing, and the Wolverines have the offensive talent to punish Indiana in a way that Penn State could not. I think Michigan covers the eight points here.
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