One of the preliminary games in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament takes place Monday in Ann Arbor where Michigan is a big favorite on the NCAA basketball odds against Elon.
Just three days into the season, we've already seen one David slay a Goliath from the Big Ten after Western Illinois took down the Wisconsin Badgers over the opening weekend. Could we see another Monday night in Ann Arbor where the Michigan Wolverines host the Elon Phoenix?
You can bet Michigan head coach John Beilein has reminded his Wolverines not to take the Phoenix too lightly, regardless of what the spread on the NCAA basketball odds board says. ESPN3 will carry the matchup that tips at Crisler Center a little past 7 PM (ET), and Michigan is giving up 18½ after initially going out -16½ at BetOnline.
Only a few shops are carrying a total for the game, and they are in agreement with 142½ for the scoreboard tally.
It's the first time the two schools have collided for a sporting event of any kind, and the Phoenix are looking for their first win over a ranked team since moving up to the Division I level. Michigan enters the contest ranked 25th in the preseason AP poll while sitting just outside the top 25 of the coaches poll and 18th in the updated Pomeroy ratings.
Monday's tilt is part of the preliminary rounds of this year's Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Elon will host the mainland event over the Thanksgiving holidays; Michigan will be in the Bahamas for main part of the tourney along with Connecticut, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Washington, Texas and Charlotte.
Can Phoenix Repeat Season-Opening Upset?
Elon (1-0 straight up & against the spread) has already taken down one of those teams heading to Paradise Island after popping Charlotte on the road this past Friday, 85-74. The Phoenix were getting 4½ points against the 49ers and never trailed in the contest, opening the game with a 10-1 lead before taking a 53-26 lead into the locker room.
Mike Matheny, now in his seventh season guiding Elon basketball, lost his top scorer from a year ago, Elijah Bryant, but returned a solid group of players for the Phoenix's second season in the Colonial Athletic Association. Among that group were three returning starters, seniors Tanner Samson and Tony Sabato. Elon certainly isn't backing down from taking on the 'big boys' with games on the road against Syracuse next week and Duke later in December before the Phoenix move into their CAA schedule.
Samson was one of four Elon players to score in double figures at Charlotte, the 6-4 guard out of Colorado ending with a dozen points and five boards. Dmitri Thompson led all scorers with 21 points, the 6-4 sophomore also grabbing eight rebounds.
Experience Makes Maize & Blue Factor In Big Ten Race
Michigan (1-0 SU) also got its campaign started with a dubya by beating Northern Michigan this past Friday, 70-44. The contest never showed up on SBR's live college basketball odds, and like Elon, the Wolverines led the entire 40 minutes, finally putting the game away with a 12-2 run to begin the second half.
Defense was the biggest factor in Michigan's win, holding the Wildcats to just 33% from the field (17-51) while blocking five shots and coming away with nine steals. Chris LeVert led the way on offense, the senior guard contributing 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in his first game since last January when he suffered a season-ending broken left foot.
Beilein has a lot of experience back for this year's squad, thanks in large part to LeVert choosing to return to Ann Arbor for his senior season. The Wolverines returned all but one of the top 10 players in minutes from the 2014-15 campaign, and this year's rotation should only get stronger once 6-6 guard Zak Irvin recovers from offseason back surgery. One freshman to watch early on is 6-10 forward Moritz Wagner from Germany.
It's the Wolverines' defensive advantage that's behind my reason to lay the points for my free NCAA Basketball Pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan -18½ at BetOnline