This year’s NCAA Tournament has already been one for the ages, but we’re not done yet. Plenty of upsets are possible, and the Michigan Wolverines are on upset alert. What are the best picks? Where are the best sportsbooks?
LSU Tigers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Monday, March 22, 2021 – 07:10 PM EDT at Lucas Oil Stadium Unity
LSU is much better than their seeding suggests. They proved that they can compete with top-level teams when they were one play away from winning the SEC Tournament. They almost upset Alabama, but they proved they were a dangerous team in that loss.
LSU dominated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by distributing the ball. Their 15-point win proved that they have what it takes to make a deep run, but they’ll have to go through the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan is one of the last teams in the Big Ten to be in the tournament, but they are also one of the best teams in the conference. They earned their seeding, and they have higher hopes than the second round of the NCAA Tournament. NCAA odds favor LSU by 5 points, but can they cover that spread? Here are keys for each team and a prediction.
Keys for LSU to Upset
LSU has three stars on the roster. Cameron Thomas, Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford have led the Tigers. All season, these three studs have carried the Tigers. If they struggle, the team has not found a way to win.
However, the key to winning isn’t for these players to dominate. We learned in the SEC Tournament against Alabama that they aren’t enough to guarantee a win. They need someone besides these three players to step up. Darius Days helped bring balance in the first round, but they need more help. They only had five bench points against St. Bonaventure. The longer this tournament lasts, the harder it will be to win without bench production.
LSU also dominated on the boards in this last game. They don’t have to have such a dominant rebounding performance, but they must at least keep the margin close. If they are severely outrebounded, they don’t have a chance of pulling off the upset.
This might be too much to ask for, but it is how LSU wins this game. They have to get some production from role players and keep the rebounding numbers respectable. If they can force more turnovers, that would be a lovely bonus.
Keys for Michigan to Cover
Almost every team in the Big Ten has been upset so far in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State and Illinois were bounced quickly, and some Cinderella teams never panned out. So, what can Michigan do to flip the script? Getting off to a strong start is crucial. LSU runs with momentum. If they are given hope early in this game, they will stick around until the final buzzer.
Also, the Wolverines will rely on perimeter shooting. While they don’t shoot tons of threes, they are very efficient here. With LSU’s bigs in the paint, any open three-pointer will be a smart way to go.
Michigan can also get points at the foul line. They love to force opponents into foul trouble, and LSU has gotten into foul trouble in the past. Michigan is efficient from the line, and it will be a key to covering the spread here. If they aren’t making free throws, they’ll be in for a long day.
Defensively, you have to have an answer for Cameron Thomas. Any of their top scorers have what it takes to go off, but Thomas is the one that can truly hurt you. Michigan will have the size to stop Watford, but Thomas’s production might get to them.
Time for a Pick
Michigan has a quality team, but LSU has momentum after their SEC Tournament run. They don’t have the depth to make the Final Four, but they can win this game outright if a few things go their way.
There is value with the LSU moneyline, but I’m going to stick with the Tigers covering the spread. Almost every NCAA Tournament game has been close, and LSU is built to fight with a top-ranked team. This region has been full of upsets, and I have the Tigers pulling it off against the Michigan Wolverines.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.