Michigan vs. LSU NCAA Tournament Pick, Odds: Betting Value on Monday’s Over/Under
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Smith.
Michigan vs. LSU Odds
|Moneyline||-200 / +165|
|Time||Monday, 6:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday evening and via BetMGM.|
LSU’s win over St. Bonaventure was one of the more impressive first-round victories.
Its prize? A matchup with No. 1 seed Michigan.
The Tigers’ electric offense overpowered one of the best defenses in the country in the Round of 64, and all-universe scorer Cam Thomas dropped 27 points on 7-of-18 shooting while going 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Michigan slumped towards the end of its first-round game against Texas Southern but played great for long stretches. Mike Smith and Hunter Dickinson combined for 34 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Just another day for one of the country’s most efficient offenses.
This is a game of contrasting styles. LSU wants to push the pace while Michigan plays very slow, and the Tigers are more offensive-minded while the Wolverines are focused on defense.
However, I see offensive mismatches for both sides in this matchup, and I’m expecting a wildly entertaining game.
The Wolverines are in trouble after Isaiah Livers’ injury.
They entered the NCAA Tournament 2-3 both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS), losing to Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State. With how March Madness has treated the Big Ten so far — all three of those teams have been eliminated — that’s not a great look.
However, Michigan still does a few things at an elite level.
It’s one of two teams that’s top-seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and Michigan is second in the country in adjusted efficiency margin behind only Gonzaga. When playing at its best, Juwan Howard’s team pairs an elite offense with a similar successful defense that is better than any other team in college basketball.
It’s primarily because of its personnel.
Smith has been an elite facilitator and has been scoring at a much higher level since Livers went down. He and Dickinson are deadly in the pick-and-roll game, and Dickinson has been one of the best freshmen in the nation. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Franz Wagner is an uber-talented two-way wing who can score at a high level when needed and is an absolute beast on the defensive end. At 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, Wagner can defend almost any position and is averaging 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Unfortunately, Livers is still so important to what Michigan does as a team. His absence is why the Wolverines are so vulnerable right now.
If a combination of Wagner and Brandon Johns can replicate Livers’ production, Michigan is a legitimate national-title contender. That’s a tall task for Howard & Co., though.
LSU has been one of the most impressive teams in the country recently. It’s 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS in its last six games, with its only outright loss being a one-point defeat against Alabama in the SEC Championship game.
LSU is one of the most dangerous No. 8 seeds in the tournament. The Tigers’ offense is pure fireworks, averaging 81.9 points per game while ranking fifth in the nation in offensive efficiency.
Three LSU players average above 15 points per game, with freshman phenom Thomas leading the way at 22.8 points per game on 47% shooting from the field.
Overall, LSU hasn’t scored fewer than 75 points in a game since Feb. 3, and the Tigers are 7-3 over that 10-game stretch.
However, LSU’s defense is very questionable. It allowed 77.9 points per game in SEC play this season (11th in the conference) and finished ninth in the SEC in defensive efficiency. The Tigers have defended marginally better of late, but Will Wade’s squad will have to win through its offense.
Given how well that offense has been playing, LSU could maybe win six tournament games through offense alone.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Given the way Michigan and LSU match up, it’s a great spot to take the over.
When LSU has the ball, the Tigers’ explosive, lengthy scorers will drive the lane and score a lot on Michigan’s smaller guards. Texas Southern’s Michael Weathers gave them good film to go off, having scored 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting in the first round against the Wolverines.
Plus, without Livers, Michigan has one fewer player to switch on to LSU’s three offensive weapons.
When Michigan has the ball, Dickinson is a matchup nightmare for the Tigers on the interior. LSU is a terrible rebounding team, ranking 320th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. The 7-foot, 255-pound Dickinson will eat on the offensive boards against 6-foot-9 Trendon Watford, and he should score a ton of second-chance points in the process.
Moreover, LSU’s interior defense is a massive issue. The Tigers’ defensive eFG% on shots at the rim is 64.1, which ranks 306th in the nation, per Hoop Math. Dickinson already leads the Wolverine offense in scoring, and he should be salivating heading into this matchup.
LSU is 3-2 to the over in its last five, while Michigan is 2-1 to the over in its last three. I love this over at anything better than 151.
Pick: Over 148.5 (up to 151)