Michigan vs. Colorado State Odds, Picks: Bet the Rams in March Madness Matchup (March 17)

Michigan vs. Colorado State Odds, Picks: Bet the Rams in March Madness Matchup (March 17) article feature image

Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: David Roddy (Colorado State)

  • Michigan and Colorado State kick off the NCAA Tournament with a first-round matchup on Thursday.
  • The Rams are a mid-major 6-seed, but they enter as short underdogs in this one.
  • Our staff breaks down how to bet the opening game of March Madness below.

Michigan vs. Colorado State Odds

Thursday, March 17
12:15 p.m. ET
Michigan Odds
-110o / -110u
Colorado State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

By Anthony Dabbundo

The first of Thursday’s 16-game slate will begin in the traditional 12:15 p.m. ET slot on CBS. The tournament schedulers made sure to pick one of the most enticing matchups of the entire first round to kick off the Thursday madness.

Colorado State is traveling to Indianapolis and Big Ten country to take on Michigan, a team some thought should have either missed the field or been stuck in Dayton in the First Four due to its mediocre resume and overall record.

The Rams and Wolverines both have strengths on the offensive end of the floor, with Michigan running the majority of its offense through post-up forward Hunter Dickinson, and Colorado State running its through David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens.

KenPom separates these two teams by just two places, while ShotQuality and BartTorvik see the Wolverines as a marginally better team over the course of the season.

It’s been tough to predict which Michigan team will show up on a game-to-game basis, though, as the Wolverines rank just 199th in consistency rating, per Haslametrics. They finished the season 5-5 in their last 10 games, alternating wins and losses during that stretch.

Michigan Wolverines

By Tanner McGrath

Editor's Note: Michigan point guard DeVante' Jones won't play due to a concussion.

It was a turbulent season for the Wolverines, who started the season as the preseason Big Ten favorite and then ended up on the bubble. Juwan Howard got suspended, the defense couldn’t defend and Caleb Houstan got outplayed by Max Christie.

The offense was actually rather good, but there was very little consistency across games because of the defensive effort. Michigan finished the season alternating wins and losses in its last nine games.

The good news? That means the Wolverines are due for a win.

The bad news? That Indiana collapse was truly awful and the mark of a bad team and bad coach.

Dickinson should dominate in this game, as he has been the entire season.

Dickinson was a force of nature down the stretch, as he developed his right hand and his 3-pointer. He averaged 20.5 points, nine rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in his final five games.

The Michigan offense also relies on him, as nothing gets done without him on the floor.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

With Dickinson on the floor, Michigan was also a good rebounding team. The surprising statistic is the interior defense, specifically against post-ups. Dickinson was average guarding post-ups, but the rest of the team finished below the eighth percentile in PPP allowed in that situation (.947).

All-in-all, Dickinson should dominate against a Colorado State frontcourt that’s relatively undersized outside of James Moors.

But I’m worried about the defense, which will not pressure the ball and will struggle against Roddy. Roddy can overpower Michigan’s guards, out-play Michigan’s young wings and out-quick Dickinson or the other Michigan bigs.

Roddy drops 30 unless Moussa Diabate can slow him down.

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Colorado State Rams

By Anthony Dabbundo

Colorado State didn’t quite manage to win the MWC regular season or conference tournament, but the Rams were one of the last unbeaten teams in the country, and finished with 25 wins in year four under head coach Niko Medved.

The Rams don’t have much size and struggle to guard the rim and rebound, but you won’t find a better perimeter offense in the entire country.

They are led by Stevens and Roddy, aka “the man in the arena.” Roddy is the Mountain West Player of the Year and while he’s only 6-foot-5, he’s an elite rebounder for his size and shoots 46% from the field. He’s a bit of a unicorn in his build and skill-set, and can be a matchup nightmare.

The Rams are due for some positive shooting regression from beyond the arc and when you look at their shooting splits in the league, the Rams actually underperformed their expected numbers, per ShotQuality.

Colorado State struggles against bigger, physical teams that can overwhelm it with size and apply a lot of ball pressure to take Medved’s motion offense out of rhythm.

Michigan’s defense isn’t that at all. The Wolverines don’t force many turnovers, and Colorado State should have plenty of success getting to the rim.

Colorado State has been excellent in close games because it has clear go-to guys in crunch time (Roddy and Stevens). The Rams don’t turn the ball over, they don’t miss free throws often and they are top 20 in minutes returning.

Even though this group hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament before, it’s plenty experienced as a unit.

Michigan vs. Colorado State Betting Pick

By Anthony Dabbundo

From a matchup perspective, the biggest question is how Colorado State chooses to match up with Dickinson in the post. The Wolverines rank in the 92nd percentile in post-up offense, per Synergy, and he’s also quite good in pick-and-roll situations.

The Rams could counter that by sticking Roddy on him, but that feels like a dangerous situation given potential Roddy foul trouble and the height advantage for Dickinson.

That likely means Medved will turn to Moors and Dischon Thomas to defend in the post, help slow down the Wolverines’ offense and force them to play less in transition and more in the half-court.

Michigan does like to post-up and shoot mid-range jump shots quite a bit, and that’s two areas where the Colorado State defense is actually pretty solid. The Rams are above-average guarding the post and in the top 20% in guarding the mid-range.

The Wolverines have a decided edge offensively in transition as well; they are excellent when they do run, and the Rams are among the worst teams in the entire country defending there.

There’s matchup advantages for both offenses, as Michigan won’t be able to turn over Colorado State at all, and the Rams should be able to use Roddy to create matchup advantages and get to the rim.

These two teams are also very similarly power rated for me, and anything +2 or better is enough for me to play the underdog in a true toss-up game.

Pick: Colorado State +2 or better

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