Michigan vs. Tennessee Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pick for Saturday’s Second-Round Showdown
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)
Michigan vs. Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
After Thursday’s “upset” over Colorado State without DeVante’ Jones, the Michigan Wolverines head to the Round of 32 to take on the Tennessee Volunteers, who defeated Longwood handily.
Tennessee is well known for its defensive prowess, and even though it may be able to limit the Wolverines’ guards, the Vols have the tall task of trying to contain two viable bigs in Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate.
Losing Olivier Nkamhoua was detrimental to the post game for this Volunteers team, but John Fulkerson and Josiah-Jordan James do excel down low.
Expect Tennessee to win this game, but the size advantage for the Wolverines should keep them within reach.
In a shocking bit of news, Jones looks to be headed for a return for the Wolverines.
DeVante' Jones is in Indianapolis & practiced with Michigan today. Jace Howard seemed to imply he's "back" in the lineup, but no official word
Jace on Jones practicing: "to see that he was healthy again … It was great to see him back and it felt like we were a full team again"
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) March 18, 2022
This will definitely be needed, considering the Wolverines’ first-half struggles against Colorado State. Tennessee likes to turn opponents over, and it has done well in that category all season, ranking 15th in defensive turnover rate on KenPom at 23%.
Michigan turns it over around 17.3% of the time, so Jones is a pivotal piece to its success on Saturday.
Now, Michigan gets most of its points on the interior. In fact, around 57% of its total scoring this season has come from inside the 3-point arc (KenPom).
Tennessee does well defending inside, but it has had some issues. For instance, the Vols rank 54th in finishing at the rim and 80th on mid-range jumpers, per ShotQuality.
Since Michigan posts up often, it will take advantage of these occasional mishaps. Dickinson and Diabate logging heavy minutes would be beneficial to tire out the Volunteers’ big men. The Wolverines should be able to stick to their usual game-plan.
Building off of that, Michigan carries a significant edge in rebounding, especially on defense. Tennessee can get to other teams on the offensive glass, but with Dickinson or Diabate always on the floor, the Wolverines will have the edge, and should steal away second chances from the Volunteers.
Jones and Caleb Houstan also average at least four boards per game, so Michigan can rebound from the wings and guard positions, as well.
Tennessee needs to have the same strategy it put forth against the taller teams in the SEC (i.e. Auburn and Kentucky). Oscar Tshiebwe is surely a better rebounder than anyone on Michigan, but having the two taller trees and strong rebounding guards should help the Wolverines.
Michigan is not the best defensive team, but it can guard the arc decently. Per KenPom, the Wolverines are allowing teams to shoot around 33% from outside.
In Big Ten play, that number did dwindle down to around 34.6%, though.
Most of the Volunteers’ offense actually comes from outside. Santiago Vescovi, James, Kennedy Chandler and Zakai Zeigler have each shot over 100 3s this season. Michigan will need to lock these guys down behind the arc, or they will drill open looks.
That said, per ShotQuality, Michigan ranks fourth in Open 3 Rate and 32nd in Rim & 3 Rate on defense. Do not expect many open 3-pointers for the Volunteers.
If Michigan can continue what it has done this season, that will remove a significant portion of the Volunteers’ offensive attack.
Michigan vs. Tennessee Betting Pick
Tennessee is the better team between these two, but it will have trouble with Michigan’s size. The Wolverines will negate the Volunteers’ offensive rebounding and post them up inside consistently.
They will also be able to guard the plethora of 3-pointers the Volunteers plan to hoist during this game.
All of these signs point to Michigan covering the spread on a neutral court. This game could be a one-possession game, given Michigan’s mismatch here, so take it at +6, and play it to +5. There is value on the Wolverines.