Michigan vs. Florida Betting Guide: Will Gators Expose Wolverines’ Interior in NCAA Tournament?

Michigan vs. Florida Betting Guide: Will Gators Expose Wolverines’ Interior in NCAA Tournament? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Michigan guard Charles Matthews, Florida center Kevarrius Hayes

#2 Michigan vs. #10 Florida: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Michigan -7
  • Over/Under: 121
  • Date: Saturday, March 23
  • Time: 5:15 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Des Moines, Iowa

>> All odds as of Friday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

The Wolverines (20-15 against the spread) have covered in five of their past seven affairs, including their 74-55 win over Montana in the first round — both outright and ATS. On the flip side, the Gators (17-18 ATS) have notched five straight victories ATS while their improved play was showcased in their win (+3) over Nevada on Thursday.

Which team presents more value in this West Region matchup? Let’s break it down.

The Charles Matthews Effect

The 6-foot-6 wing missed the Wolverines’ final three regular-season games with an ankle injury. Matthews was limited in their trio of Big Ten Tournament affairs, as well, but he appeared refreshed in their first-round victory over Montana with a 22-point, 10-rebound showing in 35 minutes.

An effective Matthews provides another floor-spacing ball-handler in John Beilein’s starting lineup, along with one of the premier on-ball defenders at his position. He’ll likely go up against Gators wing Jalen Hudson, who’s beginning to regress positively after slumping to 9.2 points per game this season.

Florida’s Refined Offense

Mike White’s crew has reverted its attack to the interior during its two straight-up wins in its past three duels, generating 52.0% of its offense from that vicinity. The 6-foot-9 Kevarrius Hayes has been a critical part of that success, tallying 14.3 points per game while shooting 76.2% from the field over that span.

Despite Matthews’ return, Michigan’s defense inside the arc has struggled all season. It let up the highest 2-point scoring rate in the entire country (60.0%), and those struggles continued in Big Ten play, as well.

The 7-foot-1 Jon Teske is a fine defender in the low-post, but I’m expecting the reinvigorated Hayes to provide an inside-out presence for the Gators’ perimeter offense. Even though Beilein’s bunch is letting up the fifth-lowest perimeter clip (28.7%) in the nation, it has been susceptible off the dribble drive and via playing inside-out.

The Wolverines will showcase a size advantage over Florida, but expect the Gators’ quintuplet of ball-handlers to create enough mismatches. That should create its fair share of opportunities from deep.

Will Michigan Avoid a Lengthy Scoring Drought?

Beilein’s 19th-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (115.5 points per 100 possessions) is guided by the Wolverines’ leading-scorer: The 6-foot-9 Ignas Brazdeikis (15.1 ppg).

The Wolverines have dealt with inept scoring stretches of late, though, highlighted by the Spartans’ 13-3 run to wrap up a 65-60 win in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.

A major reason why stems from relying on their perimeter attack — when their half-court sets breakdown. Michigan delivered the second-highest 3-point scoring rate (33.7%) in its conference docket, and Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and even Zavier Simpson tend to get shot-happy in those instances.

Not only has Florida accrued the 15th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (92.0 opponents’ points per possession) in the country, but White’s crew has limited its opponents to the 36th-lowest 3-point clip (31.6%) as well.

Expect the Gators’ defense to keep this score tighter than the line indicates.

Eli’s PICK: Florida +7, but wouldn’t bet it past +6.5

Our Projected Odds: Michigan vs. Florida

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Michigan -8.5
  • Total: 121.5
  • Proj Score: Michigan 65 | Florida 56.5
  • Win Probability: Michigan 81.7% | Florida 18.3%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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