The 2020-21 college basketball season has to be considered a success for the Michigan Wolverines. And yet, the finish still felt like a disappointment for many Wolverines fans.
Despite the loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, this past season provided a lot of positives for Michigan. It also provided a lot of positives for Michigan sports bettors.
UCLA spoils Michigan’s Final Four bid
The Wolverines were heavily favored going into Tuesday’s Elite Eight matchup with 11th-seeded UCLA.
Oddsmakers had Michigan as a 6.5-point favorite, yet the Wolverines had a poor showing and suffered a 51-49 loss.
The sportsbooks were pretty off on this game, as they had the over/under listed at 137 points for a game that finished with just 100 points.
Michigan struggled offensively in the end of its March Madness run, going just 20 of 51 from the floor and 3 of 11 from the arc. It was a far cry from their 76.5-point average and 48.8% shooting rate throughout the season.
Hunter Dickinson was the lone Michigan player in double figures with 11 points. Franz Wagner really struggled, finishing with only four points on 1-for-10 shooting.
UCLA was a virtual one-man show, with Johnny Juzang scoring 28 of the team’s 51 points on 11-for-19 shooting.
Wolverines still surprised fans, bettors in 2021
Although the tournament ended with a singular poor showing, Michigan still was one of this season’s most surprising college basketball teams.
I his second season as head coach, Juwan Howard led Michigan to a 23-5 overall record with a 14-3 mark in the Big Ten Conference and a conference title.
Coming into the season, oddsmakers expected the Wolverines to finish in the middle of the pack in the league. The Wolverines opened at +1100 to come away with the Big Ten title.
Michigan ranged in the +3500 to +4000 range to win the NCAA Tournament to start the year, but was among the favorites by the time March Madness began.
The Wolverines nearly paid off some loyal bettors Tuesday. A preseason Final Four wager for Michigan this college basketball season carried +900 odds.
Michigan among the best against the spread
Along with low expectations going into the season, oddsmakers underestimated the Wolverines throughout the campaign.
Michigan was 19-9 against the spread this season, good for a 67.9% success rate. Only 16 teams had better success rates nationally, none of which was from the Big Ten.
All five outright losses this season came when Michigan was a favorite. The Wolverines were an underdog just once this season, in a trip to Wisconsin on Feb. 14. Michigan still came away with a 67-59 victory.
When it came to point totals, Michigan was big with the under. The Wolverines were 17-11 with the under this season, tying Michigan State for the most unders hit in the Big Ten.
The under trend can largely be attributed to the Michigan defense, which gave up just 65.2 points per game and held opponents to 39% shooting.
Michigan hit the over in its first three games of the season and six of its first nine. Once in the thick of Big Ten play, the totals started to drop.
After having a total listed over 140 points in its first 10 games, Michigan closed the regular season with totals listed at 138 or less in three of its final four games.