Upcoming Match-ups

No. 1 Louisville Is a 6.5-Point Favorite Over No. 4 Michigan in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Zavier Simpson lays it in for Michigan
Zavier Simpson and the Michigan Wolverines went from unranked to #4 in the latest AP Poll, one of the biggest jumps in NCAA history. Photo by Photo by TonyTheTiger (Wikipedia) [CC License].
  • Louisville is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for first time since 2013
  • Michigan entered the poll at No. 4 this week after being unranked all season
  • Can the Wolverines keep up their hot start under first-year coach Juwan Howard?

In a marquee early-December matchup, No. 1 Louisville hosts No. 4 Michigan at 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday (Dec. 3) as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

#4 Michigan vs #1 Louisville Odds

Team Spread Over/Under at BetOnline
Michigan +6.5 (-115) Over 140 (-110)
Louisville -6.5 (-105) Under 140 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 2

The line opened with Louisville favored by 5.5 points. Early money on the Cardinals pushed the point spread to 6.5 as can be seen at the Michigan vs. Louisville odds page.

Louisville (7-0) ascended to the top of the Associated Press poll on Monday following victories over Akron at home and against Western Kentucky in Nashville. The Cardinals began the season at No. 5 but now are the fourth different No. 1 team in the first five weeks of the season.

Michigan (7-0) went from unranked to No. 4 in the poll after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas last weekend by beating Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga. It marked just the second time in the 70-year history of the poll that an unranked team entered as No. 4 or higher.

Both teams have seen their 2020 NCAA Tournament odds improve significantly since the season started.

First Big Test for Cardinals

Ranked No. 1 for the first time since 2013, Louisville has been criticized for playing a soft schedule. However, Chris Mack’s team is coming off its best win of the season, 71-54 over Western Kentucky last Saturday (Nov. 30).

The Hilltoppers entered the game with a 6-1 record. However, Louisville held them to season-lows in both points and shooting percentage (37). Furthermore, Western Kentucky struggled from 3-point range, connecting on only one of its 17 attempts after shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc in its first seven games.

Louisville is eighth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, allowing 87.6 points per 100 possessions. Six Cardinals have recorded at least four steals so far this season.

Junior forward Jordan Nwora is averaging a team-high 21.9 points a game for a team that is second in adjusted defensive efficiency with 114.4 points per 100 possessions.

Howard Winning at Alma Mater

There was some uncertainty surrounding Michigan entering the season as former Wolverines star Juwan Howard was hired as coach, replacing John Beilein who left for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Howard had no previous head coaching experience, though he was an assistant in the professional ranks.

Yet the transition has been seamless, even though Michigan lost its three leading scorers from last season’s team. The Wolverines have gone from a perimeter-oriented team to running the offense through 7-foot-1 senior center Jon Teske, not a surprise considering Howard was a post player in the NBA for 19 seasons.

Teske is averaging 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocked shots and 1.6 steals a game. He won Most Valuable Player honors at Atlantis after scoring 40 points and pulling down 29 rebounds in the three games.

Teske is one of four Michigan players scoring in double figures along with junior forward Isaiah Livers (17.0), junior guard Eli Brooks (12.9) and senior guard Zavier Simpson (12.3). Simpson also leads the nation with 9.7 assists a game.

Both Sides Can Fill It Up

This game will match two of the top shooting teams in the country. Michigan is second in field goal shooting at 52.9 percent while Louisville is sixth with a 51.9 mark.

Simpson leads the Wolverines with a 59.3 percentage and is followed by Livers (56.3) and Teske (56.1). Louisville is topped by senior forward Dwayne Sutton, who is hitting at a sizzling 71.8-percent clip.

 

Michigan
VS
Louisville

109.4 (25th) Adjusted offensive efficiency 114.4 (2nd)
88.0 (12th) Adjusted defensive efficiency 87.6 (8th)

Michigan The Better ATS Team

Louisville is a lackluster 3-4 against the spread so far this season, though it did end a three-game ATS losing streak by covering as an 11-point favorite against Western Kentucky. Four of the Cardinals’ games have gone over.

Michigan has a four-game ATS winning streak on the go and is 5-2 overall, while four of its games have gone over.

The teams last met in the 2017 NCAA Tournament when Michigan won 73-69 as a three-point favorite in the Round of 32. Simpson is the only current player who appeared in that game and he logged just four minutes.

Michigan showed in Atlantis that it could handle strong competition with the wins over a pair of top-10 teams in North Carolina and Gonzaga. The Wolverines should give Louisville all it can handle.

The pick: Michigan +6.5 (-115)

Author Image
Discussion

Let's have fun and keep it civil.