NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan vs. Indiana

Willie Bee

Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:20 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 1:20 PM UTC

Apparently there's a rather important football game going on Sunday, and that's why the NCAA basketball betting card is lighter than usual. Not sure who is playing on the gridiron, but when the commercials are getting as much pregame hype as the action on the field, I'll pass.

Instead, you can bet on my fat backside being stretched out on the couch for at least one of the hoops contests on Sunday's slate. The red-hot Michigan Wolverines hit the floor at Indiana to take on the Hoosiers in a 1 PM (ET) matchup, with CBS providing the television coverage.

Michigan officially opened the betting proceedings as 1.5 point chalk, and that spread is at 2-2.5 now. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds don't show a total yet, but will just as soon as it's released. I'm going with 140-141.

This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the longtime rivals, the second coming at the very end of the regular season in Ann Arbor. Indiana won both clashes a year ago, taking a 72-71 decision at Michigan as a 1.5 point underdog after knocking off the then-No. 1 Wolverines in Bloomington as 5.5 point chalk, 81-73.

The last time the Wolverines picked up a win at Assembly Hall was in Jan. 2009, scoring a 72-66 victory but failing to cover as 8 point favorites.

Wolverines Seek 11yh-Straight Victory

John Beilein has Michigan (16-4 straight up, 10-7-1 against the spread) playing about as well as any other team in the country, including the two remaining unbeatens, Syracuse and Wichita State. The Maize & Blue take the court Sunday with a 10-game win streak going, and remain perfect atop the Big Ten with an 8-0 mark.

The Wolverines have crept back into the top 10 of the AP as a result of their recent play. Beilein knows, however, how tenuous their hold is on first place in the league and top 10 in the country as a very tough 4-game stretch on the schedule looms.

Michigan has already weathered one 3-game schedule test by taking out Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State in successive battles. The matchups with the Badgers and Spartans came on the road as well, where the Wolverines have won all four league tilts (3-1 ATS).

The most recent victory came at home a few days ago when Michigan got past Purdue, 75-66. The Wolverines shot better than 60% from the field, including 7-of-13 from long-range, but they weren't able to win the rebound battle and that kept the Boilermakers close enough to beat a 12.5 point spread.

Hoosiers Need Bounce-Back After Loss To Nebraska

Indiana (13-8 SU, 10-9-1 ATS) has fallen into a rut with three losses in the last four games, dropping the Hoosiers near the bottom of the conference ranks with a 3-5 Big Ten mark. The most recent loss for Tom Crean's crew came Thursday on the road at Nebraska where the Cornhuskers rallied from a 16-point deficit to post a 60-55 dubya.

All four games in the slide finished short of the total, and the blame -- or credit, if you've been betting the 'under' -- can be placed on Indiana. The Hoosiers put up 56 points on average in the four games, well below the 79.8 PPG clip they had going before.

One player who has been off his game in the stretch is Will Sheehey. The senior forward missed the loss at Michigan State with a gimpy left ankle, and totaled just 19 points in the other three games while going 6-of-23 from the field (1-of-10 from outside).

My free NCAA basketball pick for this one is pretty simple: Ride the hotter team as short road chalk. Give me the Wolverines on Sunday.

My pick: Michigan -2.5

Season: 29-20-3 (+7.0)

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