The state's only legitimate championship contender is now on pause.
On Saturday, the University of Michigan decided to immediately suspend athletic activities in all sports, including games, team and individual training sessions, until further notice and for up to 14 days.
The two-week pause is due to confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7. COVID-19 strain within the school’s athletic department and came from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
"Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools," said Warde Manuel, Michigan athletic director, said in a media release.
The pause comes just as the Wolverines earned the No. 4 spot in the latest Associated Press Men’s College Basketball poll.
Based on the team’s current schedule, the 14-day pause would affect games at Penn State, Indiana, at Northwestern and Michigan State. According to the media release, no decision on the status of those games has been decided.
“University public health officials are working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and Michigan Department of Human Health Services on additional mitigation strategies to address the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant in the university community,” the release said. “The university will be carefully considering additional mitigation measures. There are many unknowns that remain under investigation by U-M, local and state public health officials.
“No determination has been made on how the pause may impact scheduled games beyond Feb. 7.” The B.1.1.7 variant is thought to be approximately 50% more transmissible than the standard form of the virus. The virus’ ability to spread at a faster rate, leading to more cases and additional hospitalizations and deaths is the main reason for the MDHHS’ decision to immediately halt all activities within the Michigan Athletic Department.
Despite the hiatus, sportsbooks still like the Wolverines’ odds this season. With a 13-1 overall record and an 8-1 mark in Big Ten play, Michigan is currently the sports betting favorite to win the conference at +260. Sportsbooks also have the Wolverines at +175 to reach the Final Four — the fourth-best odds — and the team is +1400 to win it all.
Michigan bettors had one opportunity to back the Wolverines before the pause was announced. The state’s mobile sports betting and online casino gaming launch officially went live on Friday at noon, seven hours before Michigan tipped off at Purdue. The Wolverines were favored anywhere between 3.5 and 5.5 and managed to cover either number with ease, recording a 70-53 victory.
The Wolverines are tied for the fourth-best record against the spread in college basketball at 11-3.