Tale of the Tape
The #11 seed Tennessee Volunteers take on the #2 seed Michigan Wolverines on Friday in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional semifinals. The game will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana with the opening tip slated for 9:45 PM ET. According to NCAA basketball odds Michigan is a 2.0 point favorite and the posted total is 131.5.
The Tennessee Volunteers have picked the most opportune time to play their best basketball of the season. After being one of the final four teams to receive an at-large-berth to the “Big Dance” they’ve clearly seized the moment. They were able to escape with an overtime win over Iowa in their opening game of the tournament in Dayton, Ohio. Once they arrived in Raleigh for the 2nd round of the tournament a light switch went on, and they turned in a pair of dominating performance that’s advanced them to the “Sweet 16”. They hammered the #6 seed Massachusetts 86-67, and then trounced Mercer 83-63. The Volunteers shot a combined 51.4% from the field in those two wins. In their 3 NCAA Tournament games thus far Tennessee has a monster + 11.0 rebounds per game differential. The Volunteers are now 8-1 in their last 9-games overall, with their only loss in that sequence coming to Florida who’s only the top ranked team in the country.
Back for an Encore
The Michigan Wolverines are back in the “Sweet 16” for the 2nd consecutive year. Last year’s journey took them all the way to the national title game before losing to Louisville. Gone from last season are Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Mitch McGary. The first two departed early for the NBA, while McGary was lost to a back injury earlier this season. However, the Wolverines haven’t missed a beat in winning the Big 10 regular season title, advancing to the conference tournament final before losing to Michigan St., and then easily winning their first two NCAA Tournament games. This is one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the country. They’re converting at 47.8% from the field, and 39.8% from beyond the three-point line. The big question mark entering this contest will be how the Wolverines be able to cope with the relentless rebounding of Tennessee? Michigan is a dismal -5.2 rebounds game differential over their last 5 contests.
Both of these teams are playing very well at this juncture. The books have spoke volumes on what this line was set at. We’re in a Regional Semifinal, and we have a #2 seed installed as a tiny 2.0 point favorite over a #11 seed. Additionally, I just can’t keep thinking about how the Wolverines are going to be able to neutralize the Volunteers on the boards, and have yet to come up with an answer. Did I mention that Tennessee holds the edge defensively as well?
Free Pick: Tennessee +2.0 over Michigan