With three conference losses already, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Michigan Wolverines are each facing a must-win situation Tuesday night in their NCAA basketball odds matchup.
They may have huge followings and demand a lot of prime-time attention from the networks, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Michigan Wolverines are just run-of-the-mill teams when it comes to the current Big Ten standings.
Both will be taking the floor Tuesday hoping they don't slide even further back in the pack as the conference schedule approaches the halfway point. Crisler Center is the site for the only regular season meeting between the two, and ESPN will carry the broadcast beginning at 7 PM (ET).
SBR's live NCAA basketball odds has been tracking the spread from when it first opened at -3½ on Michigan to the -4½ following overnight action. Sportsbooks continue to drag their feet on releasing totals, but one should be posted shortly.
Let's face it, these two will never really develop into rivals on the basketball court like they could on the gridiron. Nebraska has yet to beat the Wolverines as conference opponents, Michigan winning all four Big Ten round ball battles and six straight overall to build a 10-2 all-time advantage over the Cornhuskers.
Michigan was the only team to beat Nebraska in Lincoln a year ago, the 71-70 win coming as 5½ point chalk, and is a perfect 5-0 in the series at home. The Maize and Blue put a 79-50 beat-down on the Cornhuskers at Crisler last February. easily covering the -13 and marking the second straight 'under' in Ann Arbor as Big Ten foes.
'Huskers On 4-0-1 Run Against Spread
Nebraska (12-7 straight up, 6-9-1 against the spread) was part of the 2nd-tier of teams in the Big Ten on the college basketball futures odds, drawing the same 8/1 odds as Michigan which put each squad behind Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers came out of the gate slow with losses in the first two league tilts, only to win four of five since then while covering four spreads in that span (plus a push).
Their mood entering Tuesday's tussle should be on the uptick after holding off Michigan State in Lincoln on Saturday, 79-75. Terran Petteway netted a season-best 32 while playing the entire game vs. the Spartans, lifting his season average to 19.6 PPG (22nd in nation).
Tim Miles and the 'Huskers are going to be without David Rivers this week and possibly another after the senior forward injured his knee in the previous win over Minnesota. Leslee Smith, who missed the first 14 games of the season rehabbing from an ACL injury suffered last summer, started in Rivers' place in Saturday's scrap against the Spartans and scored a season-high seven points while logging 30 minutes, a little less than he had played in the previous four games combined.
Wolverines' Late Rally Vs. Badgers Falls Short
Michigan gave its all last Saturday against Wisconsin, taking the Badgers to overtime before falling, 69-64. The Wolverines trailed by 11 four minutes into the second half before rallying to force OT. Derrick Walton Jr. hit a 3-pointer to send it into extra play, scoring 10 of his team-high 17 in the final 16 minutes of regulation.
The Wolverines will need more performances like that from the sophomore guard while leading scorer Caris LeVert rides the pines the rest of the season following foot surgery. Spike Albrecht has not been able to provide much offensive punch all season, and head coach John Beilein seems content to give freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkmanout most of LeVert's minutes for now.
Even without LeVert, Michigan is the better team. Still, I can't trust them to cover a spread. My primary interest is in the total, and if it comes out 126 or higher, I'm buying low for my NCAA basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Nebraska-Michigan Under 126 at Pinnacle
Season: 30-31 (-4.1)