Michigan Is Big Ten’s NCAA Survivor As Men’s Sweet 16 Approaches

Posted By Derek Helling on March 23, 2021 - Last Updated on March 25, 2021

The farmer in the dell had it all wrong. It’s the Michigan Wolverines who stand alone for the Big Ten Conference in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan’s March Madness odds are now the lone in-conference action at Michigan sportsbooks.

The lines on several MI sports betting apps favor Michigan, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, to continue to the Elite Eight. There are some similarities between the Wolverines and their Sweet 16 opponent, No. 4 seed Florida State, that bettors should note.

Michigan a slight favorite in NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16

MI sportsbook operators have the Wolverines as a favorite of either 2.5 or 3 points favorite Sunday against Florida State. That game should tip at 5 p.m. ET on CBS.

After dispensing of Texas Southern in the first round by 16 points, Michigan dispatched LSU 86-78 on Monday in a second-round thriller. Florida State has averaged just 67.5 points per game so far in the tournament, but they didn’t need offensive firepower, as they still won games over UNC Greensboro and Colorado by an average of 14 points.

The Wolverines, on the other hand, have scored 82 and 86 in their two games. Replicating that total could easily be enough to send Florida State home, but that will be the challenge.

Michigan got four starters into double figures against Texas Southern, then got huge games from Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown against LSU. That multi-threat attack will be crucial for not only covering the spread, but Sunday’s point total as well.

Florida State, a top-30 defensive team according to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced statistics, held both of its tourney opponents under 36% from the field. By comparison, the Seminoles were far more efficient, shooting 52% both times out.

Should FSU be able to replicate those results Sunday, they could cover this tight margin.

Wolverines, Seminoles have efficient offenses, capable defenses

Lines on the total for the game range between 144 and 145 points, depending on which app you’re looking at. Just like Florida State, Michigan has shot a high percentage through its first two games (50.9% on average).

Brooks, Brown and crew also held both opponents under 40% from the field. So, will the efficient defenses or offenses win out Sunday?

On a larger scale, these two teams have averaged a combined 154.8 points in all games this season. FSU’s 78-point average puts it in the top 40 in the country.

It’s also worth noting that over that larger sample, Florida State opponents collectively shot 39.3% from the field. To get up this game over 145 points, then, the Wolverines may need a larger volume of possessions.

Michigan attempted 54 shots its last time out, and 52 in the round of 64. That’s pretty on-par with what FSU’s two opponents managed (56 and 60), so bettors who take the over here need to be confident that the Wolverines can either shoot a percentage that is normal for them or attempt a much larger number of field goals Sunday night.

These are two teams who normally outperform their opponents on the court by comfortable margins. A quick look at stats suggests a tight game, but it’s difficult to read what that will mean for the total.

Michigan’s title, Final Four futures odds fluctuate slightly

As the Wolverines are now the only Big Ten team among the 16 men’s squads still alive, futures markets on the tournament have seen some movement. For example, at BetMGM Sportsbook before the tourney started, Michigan’s March Madness odds were +600 to win it all.

The lines have gotten longer on Michigan there at +900. At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Wolverines are +175 to win two more games and reach the Final Four.

Future movement on those lines will depend not just on defeating Florida State, but who else moves onto the Elite Eight. If Creighton or Villanova prevails over Gonzaga or Baylor, for instance, the odds on a Michigan championship likely get a lot shorter.

Even if FSU ends the Wolverines’ season on Sunday night, Michigan will be the last Big Ten team standing in 2021.

Photo by AJ Mast/AP
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago, IL. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law. Recently, he has written about the expanded gambling industry in Michigan, including online sports betting, online casinos, and the cornerstone land-based casino market.

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