Strength Of Schedule Makes Michigan -4 Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Tulsa

Ross Benjamin

Monday, March 14, 2016 7:49 PM GMT

Our NCAA basketball analyst breaks down Wednesday’s NCAA Tournament game between Tulsa and Michigan. Go inside in order to give yourself a best chance of making a winning bet.

Tulsa vs. Michigan 9:10 PM ET
I scratched my head for more than a couple of seconds when I saw these two teams get chosen on “Selection Sunday”. Since they were pitted against one another in a “First Four” game, it becomes crystal clear these were two of the final four at-large bids handed out by the selection committee. Current NCAA Tournament odds at Bookmaker.com has Michigan as a 4.0 point favorite, and the posted total is 142.5. The winner will be the East Region #11 seed, and will face #6 Notre Dame at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday evening.

 

The Golden Hurricane
Tulsa was upset by Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Getting knocked off by Memphis for the second time in three games was bad enough, but the nature of which it occurred was especially bothersome for Golden Hurricane supporters. They fell behind by double digits early in the contest, and never mounted a serious challenge during an 89-67 resounding defeat. At that particular juncture, I don’t think even the most ardent of Tulsa fans thought their team had an inkling of a chance to attain a NCAA Tournament invite. Now the question becomes, how will this team respond? Will they be rejuvenated in light of a somewhat surprising turn of events, or will the poor performance in its previous game carry over onto the big stage? My hypothetical guess, it will be somewhere between those two scenarios. Whether that will be good enough to knock off a power conference team on Wednesday remains to be seen. In my personal opinion, I don’t like their chances against a battle tested opponent like Michigan.

 

Limping into the Dance
Similar to what occurred with Tulsa, there were many including myself that believed Michigan was undeserving of a NCAA Tournament bid. After all, we’re talking about a Wolverines team that went a dismal 4-8 during its last twelve games. What may have pushed them over the top was an upset of Indiana in the Big Ten Conference Tournament quarterfinals. They were no match for Purdue the following day, and that leads me to this. Purdue is one of the better rebounding teams in the country, and that’s one of Michigan’s most glaring weaknesses. They’ll match up much better against a Tulsa team that was a -4 rebound per game differential over its past five contests. Although Michigan has been in a perimeter shooting funk of late, they still have converted on a stellar 38% of their three point attempts this season. The Wolverines were better than 40% from long distance for much of this 2015-2016 campaign. On a positive note, facing an opponent who’s unfamiliar on how to defend them may enable Michigan to rediscover its three point shooting prowess.

 

Final Take 
The American Athletic Conference can hang their hat on having four teams in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. However, the Big Ten will have seven teams participating, and from top to bottom is clearly the superior conference of the two. All you have to do is look at the latest AP Poll to confirm that being the case. The Big Ten has five teams ranked in the top 21, while the AAC has just SMU, and the Mustangs are #25 in addition to being ineligible for postseason play. Having to play a much tougher schedule on a nightly basis will pay dividends for Michigan in this matchup. I’ll be on the small favorite in this game for one of my NCAA Tournament picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan -4
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle