Michigan vs. UCF College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Target Thursday Over/Under
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Frankie Collins (Michigan)
- Michigan travels down south to try to land a Quad 1 victory over UCF in Orlando.
- The Wolverines haven't lived up to expectations yet this season, while the Knights haven't notched a true quality win just yet.
- Jim Root breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
Michigan vs. UCF Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Aubrey Dawkins Bowl!
Ok, I know that’s an obscure reference. A few years back, Aubrey Dawkins — son of UCF coach Johnny Dawkins — transferred from Michigan down to Orlando to play for his father. And unfortunately, my brain links these two schools to that transfer, so you have to tolerate my dumb references!
This is a somewhat strange matchup at this point in the schedule. Most power-conference schools are hosting low-majors as they gear up for conference play. Instead, Michigan is headed south to try and steal a Quad 1 win.
UCF, meanwhile, could really use a big win of its own. The Knights currently have a big ol’ zero in the “Q1 wins” column, and if they hope to earn an at-large bid, they need this one.
Hosting Michigan (No. 34 in the NET) currently qualifies as a Q2 game, but the Wolverines could very well rise in Big Ten play.
After beginning as a preseason top-10 team, Michigan has gotten off to a slow start this year. Already with four losses, the Wolverines are still ironing out their backcourt rotation and figuring out how to best mesh Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate.
Dickinson is the fulcrum. A truly dominant post scorer, the enormous lefty has continued to evolve as a shooter and passer, as well. He has hit five 3s after connecting on zero last season. Plus, his assist rate has doubled compared to last season, helping to beat the frequent double-teams opponents send his way.
The backcourt has not been as productive nor as consistent, though. Eli Brooks has been solid if unspectacular, but he has been forced into more of a playmaking role than last season.
That’s because Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante’ Jones and freshman Frankie Collins have both struggled at times at point guard. Another rookie, Kobe Bufkin, may see more minutes as a result.
The defense has had its own issues as well, particularly in a home loss to Minnesota on Dec. 11. Michigan does not force turnovers, so it can be vulnerable to hot shooting nights.
Dawkins’ Knights brought back their top seven scorers from last season, fueling lofty preseason expectations. To this point, they have basically met those expectations.
The Knights have largely beaten who they should and lost their two biggest games (vs. Oklahoma, at Auburn). They did win at Miami (FL), but the Hurricanes are a fringe top-100 team — not a needle-mover.
UCF’s biggest strength is its versatility. The Knights have a bevy of athletic guards and wings who can slash and defend multiple positions. That makes them difficult to defend.
The key to stopping UCF is the old axiom: “cut the head off of the snake.” Darius Perry is the only true creator for others on the team, and the Knights struggle when he is not facilitating.
Per Hoop-Explorer.com, UCF scores 118.9 per 100 possessions when he plays, compared to just 99.5 when he sits (adjusted for competition).
Michigan vs. UCF Betting Pick
Oddsmakers opened this line fairly sharp, with the Wolverines laying 3.5 as a road favorite. I would lean toward Michigan laying the points, but numerically, I cannot really recommend betting a side here.
If I had to bet this one, though, I’d go with the over. UCF wants to play up-tempo, and Michigan has shown a willingness to run with that kind of team (70+ possessions against Buffalo, Arizona and Nebraska).
Efficiency likely hinges on shot-making, but with enough possessions, 137.5 is plenty doable.
Pick: Over 137.5 (Play to 139)
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