Michigan is a No. 1 seed, while Michigan State snuck in. The top two programs in the state are in the NCAA Tournament once again.
It’s the 22nd consecutive season MSU has made the NCAA Tournament and will mark the fifth straight season both Michigan and MSU earned bids.
This year’s event will mark the first time residents in Michigan will be able to wager on the NCAA Tournament. Retail sports betting was legalized on March 11, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of that year’s tournament. Michigan eventually launched its mobile sports betting and online casino platforms on Jan. 22, 2021, giving Michiganders greater access to wager on sports.
Sportsbooks were quick to release the odds for each of the games and futures for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s where the Wolverines and Spartans currently stand.
Despite losing to Ohio State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines secured a No. 1 seed in the East Region. At DraftKings, the Wolverines currently have the fourth-best odds to win the national title at +800, trailing only Gonzaga (+205), Baylor (+500) and Illinois (+700).
DraftKings also has markets on teams to reach the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four. Michigan is -278 to reach the Sweet 16, +110 for the Elite Eight and +200 to make the Final Four.
Michigan’s fate will be tied to how well it can replace the injured Isaiah Livers, who missed the Ohio State game with a stress fracture in his right foot.
Livers’ absence was noticeable in Michigan’s 68-67 loss to Ohio State. The offense was disjointed, making just 20 of 57 shots (35%) and failing to consistently make shots from the perimeter, converting just 6 of 19 from 3. Livers is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game and second-best 3-point shooter at 43.1%.
On Monday, speaking on WTKA’s “The Michigan Insider” show, Livers didn’t sound optimistic he would return this season.
"We could put it to a chance,” Livers said. “I wouldn't say it's expected, just talking with the doctors and talking with Coach (Juwan) Howard. But if I do (return), that's miraculous.”
After facing the winner between Mount St. Mary’s and Texas Southern in the first round, a difficult second-round matchup awaits the Wolverines. No. 8 seed LSU has the fifth-most efficient offense according to KenPom, ranking one spot higher than Michigan, while No. 9 St. Bonaventure is the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament champions.
SEC champion Alabama is the No. 2 seed, while Big 12 conference tournament champion Texas is No. 3.
The Spartans narrowly kept their tournament streak alive. No. 11 MSU was named one of the last four in and will compete in the first four on Thursday against UCLA at 9:57 p.m. MSU opened as 1-point favorites and the line has risen in its favor to -1.5.
The winner will face No. 6 seed BYU.
MSU had a case over some at-large teams who made it out of the First Four, namely Syracuse, who many analysts questioned being in front of the Spartans. The Orange have one ranked win all season, while the Spartans recorded three wins over top five teams to close the regular season. But that is moot now that the bracket is officially released.
Oddsmakers currently do not anticipate Coach Tom Izzo making any March magic this season. The Spartans are +12000 to win it all on DraftKings and +3000 to make the Final Four. MSU is +1500 to reach the Elite Eight and +700 for a Sweet 16 trip.
MSU looked rather listless in its 68-57 loss to Maryland. The Spartans did jump out to a 23-11 advantage, only for the team to suddenly stop scoring while the Terrapins lived at the line, making 20 of 28 free throws.
If the Spartans make a run, Aaron Henry will have to be great. The team’s leading scorer at 15.3 points per game keyed MSU to two wins over Indiana and victories over Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan when he went off on offense. Henry averaged 21 points per game. But in the three most recent losses, he’s been held to 17 points per game and an inefficient 17 of 43 from the field.
How far MSU goes will depend on Henry’s offensive output.