The voters in the Associated Press college basketball poll and oddsmakers are in alignment with their projections of Michigan’s top college basketball teams.
Michigan bettors who want to wager on their favorite team to claim the title will see the odds reflective of the first AP poll.
The Michigan State Spartans came in at No. 13 in the preseason poll, while the Michigan Wolverines earned the No. 25 spot. Those rankings match their odds of winning it all, according to the sportsbooks. On DraftKings, the Spartans have the 12th-best odds to win the national title at +1500, and Michigan sits in a four-way tie for the 26th-best odds at +4000.
Three conference teams are higher on the list, with Iowa (+800), Wisconsin (+1200) and Illinois (+1300) sitting in second, sixth and seventh on DraftKings’ list.
With Iowa returning all five starters, including last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year and National Player of the Year favorite, Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes are projected to win the Big Ten at +265. Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and thought about entering the NBA draft before returning for his senior season.
Wisconsin (+350), Illinois (+355) and Michigan State (+360) round out the top four to win the conference, while Michigan is sixth at +1100.
Bettors in Michigan can place wagers at any of the land-based Detroit commercial casinos and at the numerous tribal casinos that feature a sportsbook.
Spartans look to replace Cassius Winston
The biggest area of concern for the Spartans will be how they replace All-American point guard Cassius Winston. In 2018-19, Winston was the Big 10 Player of the Year and would finish his career as the school’s all-time assist leader. Filling his playmaking void will be essential to the Spartans’ success this season.
Rocket Watts, a four-star recruit who started alongside Winston last year as a freshman, could potentially take over as Michigan State’s primary ballhandler. As the season went on, so did his production, with Watts averaging 17.8 points over the Spartans’ final four games of the season.
Michigan State’s other top returners include Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown, who both started more than half of the team’s games last season. Henry is one of the team’s best perimeter defenders and averaged 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Before electing to return to Michigan State, various draft projections had him as a second-round talent. Brown gives the offense a perimeter threat after he converted 35% of his attempts from 3-point range. His highlight from last season was in the Sweet 16 victory over LSU where he recorded 15 points and had four 3-pointers.
The Spartans also have the luxury of adding one of the top transfers in Joey Hauser. During his true freshman season at Marquette in 2018-19, Hauser averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game before sitting out last season. At 6-foot-9 and shooting 42.5% from 3, Hauser can stretch the floor for Michigan State.
Year 2 for Juwan Howard at Michigan
After former Coach Jon Beilien left for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Juwan Howard was named Michigan coach. Behind the senior pair of point guard Zavier Simpson and center Jon Teske, Michigan was ranked as high as No. 4 last season. But the Wolverines’ hot streak fell off and the team finished the season 19-12 and was 10-10 in conference play.
Now, Michigan will look for more consistency throughout its season behind its perimeter duo of Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers.
Wagner, the younger brother of Michigan standout Moritz Wagner, was one of the conference’s top freshman last year averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 31% from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Livers debated on entering the NBA draft before returning to Michigan. He is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 12.9 points per game despite missing 10 games last season due to injury, which can be attributed to the Wolverines’ inconsistent play down the stretch. A 40% 3-point shooter, Michigan will rely on Livers’ scoring ability to key the offense as it looks to fill in other pieces.
Replacing Simpson at the point will be one of Michigan’s keys this year. Senior Eli Brooks played off the ball because Simpson was there, but Brooks was reliable last year, averaging 10.6 points per game and shooting 36% from 3.
Mike Smith, a grad transfer from Columbia and freshman Zeb Jackson, will also contribute in the Wolverines’ backcourt. Smith averaged 22.8 points for Columbia, while Jackson was ranked as the No. 87 player in the 2020 recruiting class.