No. 1 Michigan Wolverines
Record: 20-4 (14-3 Big Ten)
Tournament opponent: Mount St. Mary's/Texas Southern winner
Line: Not yet available
Coach: Juwan Howard (2nd season)
Player to know: Hunter Dickinson
Juwan Howard, a member of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five,” led his alma mater to a Big Ten regular-season title in his second season as head coach. The Wolverines started the season with an 18-1 overall record before dropping three of five down the stretch. That included a loss to Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on Saturday.
The Wolverines are a balanced team. Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 freshman, leads the team in scoring (13.9) and rebounding (7.6), but Michigan has five others who average at least eight points a game and can emerge as the go-to guy in any given game. Mike Smith, a transfer from Columbia, orchestrates the offense while Franz Wagner is a versatile threat on the wing. Isaiah Livers has a foot injury and could miss the tourney, which would be a big loss for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines have been one of the better teams in the country against the spread this year, covering in 17 of their 24 games. Additionally, the under is 15-9 in Michigan games, including in 12 of the last 15.
Michigan State Spartans
Record: 15-12 (9-11 Big Ten)
Tournament opponent: UCLA in a play-in game
Line: Michigan State -1.5; O/U 136.5
Coach: Tom Izzo (26th season)
Player to know: Aaron Henry
You have to go back to 1997 to find the last NCAA tournament played without Michigan State. This year, though, the Spartans cut it close. MSU managed to make the field of 68 thanks to a superb run late in the Big Ten regular season. After a 2-7 start in conference play, MSU won seven of its last 11 conference games, with three of those wins coming over top 10 teams: No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Illinois. Though MSU lost in the second round of the Big Ten tournament, it managed to land a bid as a one of the last four teams to make the field
Tom Izzo has a rotation that sometimes goes 11 players deep, but Aaron Henry is the most important. He leads MSU in scoring (15.3), rebounding (5.7), assists (3.5), steals (1.3), blocks (1.3) and minutes (32.1) per game. Joshua Langford, a senior who missed most of the 2019 season and all of the 2020 season, is the team’s calming force.
The Spartans have not been kind to bettors this season, going just 9-18 against the spread. MSU games have also skewed heavily toward the under (17-10 to the under).
The state of Michigan is a BetMGM sports betting market.
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