2017 March Madness Round 2 Picks: Michigan Wolverines vs Louisville Cardinals

Louisville Cardinals  players during warm up

Saturday, March 18, 2017 5:18 PM GMT

It's a top-tier defense vs. a top-tier offense when No. 2 Louisville and No. 7 Michigan clash in the second round of the Midwest bracket on Sunday. The old sports cliche "defense wins championships" may hold true in this matchup.

   

No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 2 Louisville

Midwest Region, Sunday, 12:10 pm E.T

 

Since losing at Northwestern 67-57 on a full-court pass and layup as time expired, Michigan (25-11 SU, 16-17 ATS) is a perfect 6-0 SU (5-1 ATS), winning by 13.8 points per game. The spread in each contest has been no more than six points. The team is riding some hot shooting, draining 53.3 percent from the floor during the run. Derrick Walton Jr., who became only the fifth player in tournament history to score 25 points and record 10 assists in the  92-91 thriller against Oklahoma State on Friday, is the top points-getter (15.2). Overall, the Wolverines field four players averaging double digits.

Louisville (24-8 SU, 18-12 ATS) notched its fifth straight opening round victory in March Madness with a 78-63 victory over Jacksonville St, after trailing through the first 13 minutes. Periods of poor play should not come as a surprise, as the number has caught up to the Cardinals late in the year. They are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after failing to cover the 18.5-point spread on Friday. Head coach Rick Pitno’s vaunted defense, ranked seventh nationally in adjusted efficiency on KenPom, is playing worse than expected. The unit has allowed opponents to go over their projected team in each of the eight defeats against the spread. Not surprisingly, the OVER is 8-2 during this span, too.

Despite the leakier defense of late, look for Pitino’s squad to tighten up on Sunday. Louisville has been second-seeded twice before in the NCAA tournament. They won the championship each time. The current team, although lacking a true go-to guy, is just as talented and balanced as the prior two, perhaps with a little better scoring. The stronger the competition, the more it will shine. It would not shock to see this unit win it all.

Michigan is 3-6 SU and 3-6 ATS as an underdog on a neutral court against non-conference opponents under head coach John Beilein. The average line in this situation is 5.5 points. Oddsmakers set the spread at -2 in favor of Louisville. Lay the points with the Cardinals for your 2017 Marc Madness picks as they fly past the Wolverines late.

 

Free NCAAB Pick: Louisville -2.5

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3176742, "sportsbooksIds":[19,1275,43,999996,123], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]