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Sportsbooks Split on Michigan After Juwan Howard Hire

Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard will be the next head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License].
  • The Michigan Wolverines have hired Juwan Howard to be their next head coach
  • Previous head coach John Beilein has left for the NBA to be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers
  • The Wolverines are between +1200 and +1800 to win the 2020 NCAA Championship

The Michigan Wolverines have hired Juwan Howard to replace outgoing head coach John Beilein. The sportsbooks seem split on this move as some have the Wolverines at +1200 and +1800 in 2020 NCAA Tournament odds. At any price, are the Wolverines a good bet?

2020 NCAA Tournament Odds

Team Odds to win NCAA Championship at BetOnline Odds to win NCAA Championship at Bovada
Duke +600 +750
Kentucky +750 +750
Michigan State +800 +650
Virginia +800 +800
Michigan +1200 +1800
North Carolina +1400 +1200
Gonzaga +1600 +1600
Villanova +1600 +1400
Kansas +2200 +1800
Marquette +2200 +4500

*Odds taken 05/24/19

Wolverines Hire Howard

Howard, who is a Fab Five legend at the school, had been an assistant head coach with the Miami Heat for the last six seasons. His name had come up in different conversations as a head-coach-to-be, so it’s not surprising that a college school – especially one where he has a rich history – decided to give him a shot.

Howard is Not a Known Commodity

The challenge with betting on Howard and the Wolverines here is that he’s not a known commodity. We don’t exactly know what he’ll preach in terms offense, defense, or general strategy. We don’t know what he’s like in late-game situations, play-calls out of timeouts, or how he’ll manage personalities.

We know in Miami, he was often tasked with scouting opponents and developing defensive game plans. The Heat were a good defensive team under his watch, finishing seventh, eighth, fifth, seventh, 20th, and 15th in defensive efficiency over the last six seasons. However, head coach Erik Spoelstra should get most of that credit as he’s a sharp defensive mind.

Recruiting Should Be Good

One thing we know is that players who were former stars, like Howard was back in the early 1990’s, is that they tend to recruit well. We see something similar happening with Penny Hardaway at Memphis, where he’s pulled in the best class in the country.

If there was concern that some players would leave the program, that’s not likely to happen now. That’s always a risk when coaches get fired or move on. Howard looks like he’ll maintain the talented kids he has now and shouldn’t have a problem on the recruiting trail in the short-term future.

Development a Concern

Bettors have to keep in mind that Michigan is going to go through a big transition here. They weren’t a team that hunted for big-name McDonald’s All-Americans. It seems that’s now the strategy: use Howard’s big name and see what they can get. This team used to get blue collar players and Beilein would develop them. That’s a significant difference in styles.

What’s the Best Bet?

There’s no question that Howard inherits a good team – one that’s capable of winning it all. However, I’m not willing to risk money on him right now. The bottom line is he’s a new variable in a situation that was very steady and solid. Is it possible he improves upon what was already built? Definitely.

At the same time, we don’t know what he’s going to look like as a head coach, so it’s hard to say whether he elevates this team or holds them back. We have hearsay evidence that he’s the type of guy that players will want to fight for and that he’s a legend at the school, which should excite players, but that’s all speculation.

A lot of those same things were said about Patrick Ewing when he took over at Georgetown. He was a highly-regarded assistant in the NBA with no head coaching experience. He was a legend for the Hoyas too. He’s posted two mediocre seasons so far and absent of progress this year, he could get fired.

With that in mind, I’ll pass on both the +1200 and +1800 available at BetOnline and Bovada. Until I see the Wolverines play and thrive under Howard, it’s not worth a bet in my books.

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