Michigan vs. Iowa Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Thursday, Jan. 12)
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Jett Howard (Michigan)
- Michigan takes on Iowa in a battle between two Big Ten that are failing to meet expectations this season.
- The Wolverines and Hawkeyes both have strong big men in Hunter Dickinson and Kris Murray, respectively.
- Who will win that duel, and how should we bet this matchup?
Michigan vs. Iowa Odds
-108o / -112u
-108o / -112u
It may be January, but it’s not too early to start thinking about the NCAA tournament bubble.
According to the bracketology aggregation site Bracket Matrix, the Iowa Hawkeyes are the fifth team out of the final at-large bid. With plenty of games to go against a tough Big Ten schedule, the Hawkeyes certainly have a path to a bid.
The Michigan Wolverines, meanwhile, are not listed at Bracket Matrix, currently sitting outside of the bubble. After a 3-1 start in Big Ten play with plenty more opportunities to impress, Michigan has a chance to inch into that conversation.
A Thursday night clash in Iowa City gives both teams a chance to keep pace in the Big Ten standings and avoid a loss that could hurt come mid-March.
A 3-0 start in conference play was a touch of fool’s gold for the Maize and Blue. The Wolverines’ Big Ten schedule started with a road trip to Minnesota, followed by home games against Maryland and Penn State.
The latter two teams are no slouches — currently also in the bubble mix when looking towards March — yet Michigan won’t play a game against any of the five Big Ten teams currently in the KenPom top 30 until January 26.
They also won’t face any of those teams on the road until a February 23 date at Rutgers.
The Wolverines are built around star center Hunter Dickinson, though this season he’s surrounded by far more youth and inexperience than his supporting cast in prior years.
None of the Michigan players currently playing more than half the available minutes had ever done so in the past, with the starting lineup filled out by freshmen and newly-elevated role players.
Amazingly, this has not led to trouble with decision-making and carelessness. Of the 363 teams in college hoops, only Penn State turns the ball over at a lower rate than Michigan.
Those extra possessions are critical, but Michigan needs to do a better job capitalizing on them. In five of Michigan’s six losses, the Wolverines failed to shoot 50% on 2-point attempts.
With the variability of outside shooting in college hoops, a team needs to be able to supplement the deep ball with good looks at the rim.
One of the special things about college sports: teams with well-entrenched coaches tend to look the same year after year. Hawkeyes fans are nodding along as they think about their football program.
Their basketball program is starting to have a similar pattern, though the complete opposite of the low-scoring, punt-happy Hawkeyes on the gridiron.
In Fran McCaffery’s 13 years in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have ranked in the top 30 in the nation in offensive efficiency nine times, including the past five years and this season.
The Hawkeyes have been in the top 30 nationally in defensive efficiency just twice during that period, just as often as they’ve been ranked 200th or worse in defense under McCaffery.
This year’s team is no exception. The crisp, inside-out structure of the Hawkeyes’ offense can lead to high-percentage looks at the basket time, yet the Hawkeyes are just as likely to allow their opponent good looks at the other end.
The difference-maker has to be Kris Murray, who is good enough offensively to make up for the team’s flaws for stretches.
At home or against lesser competition, that works. In the heat of Big Ten play or the postseason, it’s harder to rely on outscoring the enemy without manufacturing a stop.
Michigan vs. Iowa Betting Pick
The winner of this game — unless either team gets hot from long range — likely comes down to the battle of Dickinson and Murray.
Betting on a brawl between big men is scary because it puts your money directly into the hands of the referees. Foul trouble for either would put his team behind the 8-ball, which could be worth considering as a live bet.
Prior to the game, however, I like the under. This total gives a lot of weight to Iowa’s pace and penchant for scoring, but ignores Michigan’s more recent tendency to play slowly.
All of Michigan’s last four games ended under this total — averaging 127.8 points in those games — with three of those ending under 70 possessions and fewer than 130 total points.
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