So What's New? Michigan Back in Familiar Territory

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 1:24 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2018 1:24 PM UTC

The Wolverines are making their eighth Final Four appearance. This year’s run was unexpected, with title odds reaching +8000 in December, and different in the fact that defense is leading the charge.

Final Four: Michigan Wolverines

Records: 32-7 SU, 24-12 ATS

Final AP Top 25 Ranking: 7

KenPom Ranking: 7

National Championship Odds

The Wolverines opened +2200 odds last April to win the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Depending on the sportsbook, the number ballooned to +8000 or higher in early December after three early losses through their first 10 games: LSU (77-75), North Carolina (86-71) and Ohio State (71-62). A string of wins to close out conference play adjusted the line to +4000 just before the Big Ten Tournament. An impressive sweep and B1G championship slashed odds to +1500 prior to Michigan’s 61-47 first-round victory over Montana. As of Wednesday, the number sits at +265, second choice behind favorite Villanova (-107).

Deep Final Four History

Michigan, the West Region champion set to play Loyola-Chicago in Saturday's first semifinal, is making its eighth Final Four appearance. Its only national title, in 1989, was improbable in hindsight. The Wolverines entered the tournament with athletic director Bo Schembechler abruptly firing head coach Bill Frieder after Frieder announced he had accepted the Arizona State job effective after the season. Assistant Steve Fisher took over and guided the team to an 80-79 overtime win against Seton Hall to win it all in a battle of No. 3 seeds. Glen Rice set an NCAA Tournament record by scoring 184 points in six games. Check out the final minute of play in this all-time classic title game:

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The Wolverines are making their second Final Four appearance under head coach John Beilein. As a No. 4 seed in 2013 they lost the championship game 82-72 to Louisville in Atlanta. The NCAA vacated the Cardinals' title in June 2017 due to a prostitution scandal involving players and recruits. The 2013 team is arguably Beilein’s best. Led by national player of the year Trey Burke and fellow future NBA player Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan reached No. 1 in the polls after a 20-1 SU start to the season. The team cooled late, going 6-6 in its final 12 games. Including this year, Michigan is 16-6 SU and 13-7-2 in the NCAA Tournament behind Beilein.

Dominating Defense

Beilein has fielded plenty of elite offenses over the years in Ann Arbor, but never a defense as potent as this bunch. Michigan ranks as the fourth-most efficient unit in college basketball per KenPom’s adjusted ratings, yielding 91.1 points per 100 possessions. To give you a better idea of how this group stands out, here’s where the Wolverines finished in each of Beilein’s first 11 seasons:

2007: 37th
2008: 129th
2009: 67th
2010: 58th
2011: 37th
2012: 56th
2013 : 37th
2014: 89th
2015: 100th
2016: 92nd
2017: 69th

Michigan surrenders 64.5 points per game on 42.4-percent shooting. The numbers dip to 61.8 and 40.3 during the team’s current 14-1 SU run (10-4-1 ATS).

RPI Rebound

The Wolverines began the year winning just two of their first six contests against top-50 RPI opponents. They are 5-0 SU in this situation since February 1. Michigan is 8-3 ATS overall, covering a 2.3 line by 6.4 points per game.

Michigan vs. Conference

The Wolverines have squared off against Missouri Valley Conference foes three times under Beilein: Bradley twice and once vs. now-Big East representative Creighton. They are 3-0 SU and 1-2 ATS, coming up 3.3 points per game shy of a -12.0 average line. All three contests finished "over" the total, though the lone neutral-court encounter in 2009 against Creighton needed overtime to pass the mark.

Against the Big East, the Wolverines are 4-8 SU and 6-6 ATS since 2007. They have tipped off underdogs of more than a point six times, losing each and going 2-4 ATS. A potential title date with Villanova would see them catching a few points (4 to 5) on the college basketball odds board.

Beilein has done better against the Big 12, with a 9-4 SU and ATS mark. Michigan is covering a 0.1 average line by 3.0 points per game. A championship clash with Kansas would likely open a pick 'em, with the line ultimately swinging the Wolverines' way.

Neutral Court Heroes

Michigan is 43-19 SU and 36-23-2 ATS on neutral hardwood all-time under Beilein. When favored in the betting market, the team takes care of business. It is 28-4 SU and 19-11-2 ATS, topping a -6.8 average line by 4.6 points per game. In the months of March and April, the records improve to 19-1 SU and 12-6-2 ATS overall.

Betting Tidbits

Since 2014, the Wolverines are 66-6 SU and 46-19-2 ATS (70.8 percent) when holding opponents to fewer than 70 points in a contest.

Michigan is at its best offensively, and in the betting market, when against teams with a poor opponent assist-to-turnover ratio. Versus those with a rate at or above 1.0, the Wolverines are 20-1 SU and 15-5 ATS, besting a -8.9 average line by 6.7 points per game. Beilein’s crew posts 78.4 points per game on 48.5-percent shooting under these conditions. It averages 68.6 points on 44.8 percent from the floor against all others, going 11-6 SU and 8-7-2 ATS. Villanova (1.051) is the only team in the Final Four with a rate above the threshold (Kansas, 0.978; Loyola-Chicago, 0.900).

File this trend under the head-scratcher column when pondering your NCAAB picks: The Wolverines are 6-5-1 ATS (9-3 SU) this season when 6-foot-11 forward Moe Wagner records a block. They are 15-6-1 ATS in all other contests.

The "under" is 13-4 this year when Michigan is coming off a game in which its previous opponent shot greater than 42.5 percent from the floor. The margin is healthy, too. A 129.5 average final score is coming up 10.3 points short of a 137.6 total. Opponents put up 59.1 points per game in this spot. The Wolverines held Florida State to 16 of 50 (32 percent) from the field in their 58-54 Elite Eight win.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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