Michigan Wolverines (19-6) at Northwestern Wildcats (14-10)
We snapped our four-game winning streak last night when we came up short backing the Oklahoma Sooners at home against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The game was a tight one most of the way with West Virginia holding the lead for most of the second half. The Sooners made a big push late and had the ball with a chance to win it, down 73-75, with seven seconds left in the game.
Trae Young lost the handle as he was driving to the lane on a pretty terrible no foul call, and the Sooners couldn’t get a good shot off at the buzzer to tie or win the game. Jevon Carter managed to hold Trae Young to just one assist, that is pretty remarkable for a player leading the nation in dimes.
For West Virginia, they are still hanging onto their dream of a regular season Big 12 title as they remain just one game back from Kansas and Texas Tech. Oklahoma has lost any real shot at the regular season title but don’t count these Sooners out just yet, they are still a dark horse Final Four pick if you ask me.
Today I will switch gears from the Big 12 to the Big 10 as I break down the matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Michigan Wolverines will look to continue their success on the road this season as they travel to Rosemont to face the Wildcats of Northwestern. The Wolverines are seeking their twentieth win of the season and are ranked #20 nationally. The Wildcats are trying to put together the pieces of what was once a very promising season and will look to protect their home court tonight.
The Wolverines are -1.5-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 129 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Allstate Arena.
The Michigan Wolverines are not the best team in the Big 10 this season. But that says more about how good the Big 10 is than it does about how good this Michigan team is. This is a very talented basketball team that has proven it can win big games in hostile territory this year. The Big 10 currently has four ranked teams, with two of those teams, Purdue and Michigan State, in the top five.
Michigan falls just a step back at 8-4 in league play and is ranked number twenty in the country. Big Blue owns a couple of big wins on the road this season and they will look to pick up another one tonight against Northwestern. Michigan beat a very good Texas Longhorn team in Austin, they beat Iowa in Iowa City, and they beat archrival Michigan State on its home floor.
This team isn’t afraid to play on a tough floor and pick up big wins. They will need a big-time performance tonight if they want to beat a better than their record might show Northwestern team on the road.
If you read my daily picks, you know how I feel about Northwestern this year. They were a magical team last year, making their first-ever NCAA tournament in school history, and acquitting themselves very well in the Big Dance. That led a lot of people to believe that maybe Northwestern had finally built a program that could compete on a national level every year. Well, they didn’t.
The Wildcats are back in familiar territory this season, towards the bottom of the Big 10 standings. The magic is gone, and all they have left at Northwestern is a 14-10 overall record, and a losing record in league play. It was a fun one season run that was exciting, and I hope it doesn’t take them eighty plus years to get back to the dance again, but this team is nowhere near an NCAA tournament team level this season.
I picked up on that fact early in the season and have taken advantage of it all year long as last year’s NCAA tournament hangover has caused some of the betting lines to be skewed in their favor. I have positioned myself against Northwestern several times, both at home and on the road, and in and out of league play, to great profit. The public has been slow to adjust, and you can see that is finally starting to correct itself as the Wildcats are a home dog tonight.
Early in the season, this would have been Northwestern -1.5, not the other way around and I would have really loved it! The public is finally starting to wake up to the fact that Northwestern isn’t as good as advertised but I think they still have some room to go. If this line were a true line based on no bias, just the two team’s talent, I would put Michigan at about a -5-point favorite. So, we still have some opportunity and some room for value backing Big Blue.
I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking Northwestern is terrible at home, they aren’t. But their home wins in league play have come against Illinois, Minnesota, and Penn State. Not exactly a who’s who of the Big 10 this year. They have lost home games to Nebraska, and an Ohio State team, that ranks very similarly to this Michigan team.
I don’t think Northwestern gets run off its home court. They will give their all and play hard. But in the end, Michigan is the more talented team, that is playing for a postseason berth. Whereas Northwestern is just going through the motions and playing out the stick of yet another disappointing season. I hate to bet road favorites in league games, but tonight I will make an exception.
I expect a tight game that is hotly contested but see Michigan pulling away late, for the win and the cover. Feels like 72-65 Michigan. Give me the Michigan Wolverines -1.5-points on the road.