After more than three weeks away from competition, Michigan is set to get back on the court this Sunday. The Wolverines haven’t played a game since Jan. 22, but will return to action when they travel to No. 21 Wisconsin for a Big Ten Conference clash on Valentine’s Day.
Will third-ranked Michigan be able to shake off the rust and get an important road victory? A return to practice a week in advance of the game should help. And FanDuel wants to spread the love on the day, too.
So let’s dive into where things stand for Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball.
FanDuel Spread the Love returns for Michigan vs. Wisconsin
FanDuel Michigan returns its Spread the Love campaign for Michigan’s return. If you don’t remember this promo, here’s your reminder.
Essentially, FanDuel will move the spread line one point in Michigan’s favor for every 500 fans who bet on them. To join the love parade, it just takes a few steps:
- Place your bet on the Spread the Love market.
- Max wager is $50.
- Submit your bets before tipoff on Valentine’s Day.
Then, watch the spread move toward Michigan. The more who bet, the greater the point spread will be. As of Friday afternoon, the spread was +60 and climbing fast.
Fox Bet promo gives bettors up to $50 after a Michigan point
The other Flutter property in Michigan, Fox Bet, is also posting a safe bet.
In the 5x Your Money contest, state bettors can win up to $50 after Michigan scores its first point against Wisconsin on Sunday.
The $10 maximum bet for new users on their first active day with their first deposit pays off five times over. The win is paid off in free bets credited 24 hours after the game. Free bets will expire after seven days and must be played through once before withdrawing as real money.
OK, moving on to where things stand for U-M and their return to NCAA basketball.
Wolverines forced to sit out for two weeks
The Michigan basketball team saw its season come to a pause on Jan. 23 when the university shut down all athletics for two weeks.
When multiple confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was discovered within the athletics department, Michigan elected to put a stop to play.
At that time there were five cases of the variant in Washtenaw County, with the outbreak tracing back to a female student-athlete.
The Wolverines were able to return to practice last weekend.
“It was a very challenging process that we all had to deal with and go through it,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said during his Inside Michigan Basketball radio show.
“While we were quarantined, all we kept talking about was, ‘Let’s just win the day.’ Each and every day we went in to test, fortunately enough, we all kept testing negative. But you’ve got to keep them engaged.”
Michigan is able to get in a week of practice before playing Wisconsin, which could help with the rust other teams have shown after a COVID layoff.
Michigan climbs standings during the layoff
U-M was fresh off a 70-53 win at Purdue the night prior to move to 13-1 on the season and 8-1 in the Big Ten.
The stoppage hasn’t really hurt Michigan too much in regard to a conference title. During the pause, teams like Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin have all faced setbacks.
Michigan now finds itself leading the conference standings by half a game over Illinois and Ohio State.
|Big Ten Winner
|+125 (Tournament winner)
|+210 (Tournament winner)
|Final Four Appearance
Their Big Ten championship odds are currently at +260 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. When it comes to a Final Four appearance, Michigan’s odds range from +170 to +180.
The Wolverines have odds ranging from +800 to +1300 to win the NCAA Tournament. DraftKings lists Michigan at -200 to earn a No. 1 seed in March Madness.
Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers leading fresh U-M squad
While the layoff wasn’t ideal in the grand scheme of the season, Michigan was able to rest up some minor bumps and bruises.
The Wolverines come into Sunday’s game healthy and ready to build on the positive start they have had to the season thus far.
Michigan ranks 35th nationally in offense, averaging 79.7 points per game. Their team shooting (50.9 percent) ranks eighth in the country.
The Wolverines have also been strong on the glass, outrebounding opponents by nearly 10 per game.
Freshman Hunter Dickinson was making a lot of waves prior to the stoppage. He is averaging 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. The 7’1” center is shooting an impressive 68.8 percent from the field.
Senior forward Isaiah Livers has been making the most out of his decision to not enter last year’s NBA Draft. Livers is averaging 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Oddsmakers at BetMGM are listing Livers as a +5000 longshot to win the John R. Wooden Award for this season as the nation’s top player. Iowa’s Luka Garza remains the overwhelming favorite at -1000.
Wisconsin defense to test the Michigan Wolverines
If Michigan is to be rusty on offense, it is facing the wrong opponent to be able to overcome that on Sunday.
Wisconsin (15-6, 9-5 Big Ten) remains one of the top defensive teams in the Big Ten and the nation, allowing just 62.4 points per game.
The Wolverines will have to make sure their defense doesn’t have a letdown if their offense does.
Wisconsin isn’t a powerful offense, so Michigan can keep things close with a solid defensive effort.
Wisconsin ranks just 201st in scoring (70.8 ppg) and 221st in shooting (43.2 percent).
The Badgers have been streaky as of late, alternating wins and losses over their last six games. They are coming off a 61-48 win at Nebraska on Wednesday night.
All five of Wisconsin’s conference losses saw them allow 70 points or more, including a 77-54 loss at Michigan on Jan. 12.
The Wolverines dominated that game from the tip, shooting 51.6 percent from the field while committing just eight turnovers.
Wisconsin couldn’t keep pace on offense as it shot just 30.8 percent in the loss.
The Badgers have a balanced attack with six players averaging seven points or more. D’Mitrik Trice leads the way with 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Micah Potter added 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest.
Those two were the only double-figure scorers in the first meeting with Michigan. Trice had 20 as the lone bright spot.