Michigan Wolverines vs. Indiana Hoosiers Pick
When: Friday, January 25, 2019 – 9 PM ET
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
By: Dan Jamison, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MICH -3.5/IND +3.5 (GTbets Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 133
Last Time Out: Michigan edged Minnesota 59-57; Indiana lost 73-66 to Northwestern.
Scouting the Wolverines:
At the moment, Michigan simply isn’t playing like the No. 5 team in the nation. The Wolverines lost at Wisconsin on Saturday for their first loss of the season, then barely survived at home against Minnesota, mostly because of poor 3-point shooting in both games. Michigan isn’t really a great 3-point shooting team to begin with, but the Wolverines do expect to be something better than the 3-for-22 they shot from behind the arc against the Golden Gophers. Michigan’s two saving graces at the moment are that its defense is good enough to overcome a bad shooting night against almost anyone, and it’s taking better care of the basketball. Against Minnesota, Michigan committed a mere six turnovers, allowing them to do just enough to earn a victory.
Scouting the Hoosiers:
Indiana’s season has gone off the rails since it first met Michigan on Jan. 6, and the Hoosiers are now at risk of falling out of the NCAA tournament picture entirely after five consecutive losses. To be fair, the majority of Indiana’s defeats have come against quality opposition, but a 15-point loss at home to Nebraska and a failure to break 60 points in two of the Hoosiers’ past three defeats won’t convince anyone that this is a tournament team at the moment. At the moment, Indiana simply can’t score, as evidenced by the fact that their 63-point outing against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., is only the third-lowest total the Hoosiers have scored in Big Ten play. Michigan holds everyone to low numbers, but failing to even get to 60 against Nebraska and Purdue is a major cause for concern.
The 3-point arc. To put it mildly, both of these teams have been simply terrible from beyond the arc as of late. Michigan’s struggles were well documented above, and Indiana has been even worse, failing to get above 20 percent from deep in any of its past three contests. A low-scoring game, however, favors Michigan, because the Wolverines can suffocate Indiana’s interior game if the Hoosiers aren’t hitting from the outside. In order to have a chance, Indiana has to hit its shots — and prevent Michigan from doing the same thing.
Michigan will Cover if:
Michigan backers are seeing a 3.5 spread from the major betting site. The Wolverines can play the kind of defense that has gotten them this far. Michigan might not look the greatest with its offense, but the Wolverines can frustrate anyone in the country when their defense gets locked in, and that goes double against a struggling team like Indiana. Michigan needs to be locked in from the opening tip to prevent any thoughts of an upset.
Indiana will Cover if:
The Hoosiers play with the desperation that the situation warrants. Indiana once looked like it might have an outside shot at a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Hoosiers look closer to going to Dayton these days. Indiana has to take the fight to Michigan and ensure that its fans have plenty to cheer about from the beginning. If the Hoosiers fall behind early, the Wolverines’ style will make it very difficult for them to find any way back into the contest.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Neither side is playing particularly great basketball right now. Michigan looks closer to being a No. 5 seed than the No. 5 team in the nation, and Indiana looks like it might be heading to the NIT if it doesn’t get things going in a hurry. But that said, Michigan has to be the pick here. The Wolverines have played two poor games in a row, and this just doesn’t feel like the type of team that’s going to put out another off night for the third consecutive game.
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Plus, when you have two teams that are not playing well, it’s smart to go with the team with the higher floor. Michigan might be playing like a No. 5 seed, but that’s a lot better than a team that might not even make it to the tournament. At the moment, the Hoosiers cannot hit shots, and that’s always a recipe for disaster against the Wolverines’ ferocious defense. Even though Michigan doesn’t really look like Michigan at the moment and has had trouble hitting its spreads, I’m going to trust the Wolverines as the more consistent team and lay the 3.5 points with them.