The college basketball season is about a quarter of the way complete for most teams across the country. The year has been filled with postponements, cancellations and games being thrown on a day's notice with teams scrambling to find opponents with similar open dates.
Michigan has seven Division I men’s basketball teams with varying talent, ranging from Michigan State (6-0), which is a perennial national title and Big Ten contender, to an 0-7 Oakland team.
But the actual polls and standings reflect far differently from how each team has stacked up against the spread this season. Michigan State is the worst, while Oakland has been one of the best at covering the large spreads it has faced.
Here’s a rundown on how each team has fared so far against the spread:
One of the Big Ten’s best chances to claim the national title is one of the worst teams in Michigan at covering the spread. To be fair to MSU, the spreads it is forced to cover are sizable given its talent advantage over the nonconference opponents it has faced.
All four of MSU’s losses against the spread came when the Spartans were favored by 20 points or more. They failed to cover against Eastern Michigan (+22), Detroit (+27.5), Western Michigan (+23) and Oakland (+24.5).
For the smaller programs within the state, facing MSU is essentially their Super Bowl. The chance to face one of the most historically successful teams in Michigan is an opportunity many of the players relish.
Some may see it as an opportunity to prove themselves after not being recruited by MSU or Michigan, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise the underdogs may get more amped up to face MSU. Whereas the Spartans may be in a letdown spot against these teams, considering they could be overlooking them.
But against single-digit spreads, the Spartans are 2-0, covering and winning straight up as an underdog at Duke, 75-69, and defeating Notre Dame, 80-70, to cover 9.5.
With the Spartans starting their Big Ten schedule at Northwestern on Sunday, sports bettors can expect to see smaller spreads in MSU’s games going forward.
In a loaded Big Ten conference, it’s still difficult to project where this Michigan team stands. The Wolverines have had only one matchup against a Power Five school, and it was against Big Ten foe Penn State on Sunday. Michigan prevailed 62-58, thanks in large part to freshman center Hunter Dickinson.
In his first career start, Dickinson scored a game-high 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting while adding seven blocks and three rebounds. And his production came when the Wolverines needed it most. Trailing by two with less than three minutes remaining, Dickinson scored on two straight possessions to give his team a lead it would not relinquish.
The win was a bit of validation for a Michigan team that beat up on nonconference foes from weaker conferences. And while it may take some time to see how Michigan stacks up to the rest of the Big Ten and on a national level, there’s no doubting its mark against the spread. The Wolverines are 4-2 against the spread, only failing to cover against Penn State and Oakland this season.
One of the worst teams in the country sports an above-average record against the spread. But after Oakland’s season debut, it didn’t seem as if oddsmakers could set a spread high enough for the Golden Grizzlies to cover.
Oakland was blown out 101-49 to Xavier as a 15.5-point underdog before losing 80-53 to Toledo in its next game as an 11-point underdog. But after the two embarrassing showings, Oakland has covered in four of its last five games, including +31 against Michigan and +24.5 versus Michigan State. The Grizzlies even pushed the Wolverines to overtime before losing 81-71.
If you feel propelled enough to watch some Oakland basketball, Rashad Williams is worth seeing play. He’s a 6-foot-2 guard who shoots from the perimeter without a conscience. Against MSU, he scored 36 points while making 8 of 17 from 3-point range, and he was just as good against Oklahoma State. Williams recorded 32 points and converted on 10 of 20 attempts from beyond the arc.
Detroit holds the best overall cover percentage of all the Michigan schools, going 3-1 against the spread despite a 1-3 record.
Western Michigan comes in at 2-2, while Eastern is 1-1. Both those schools, along with Detroit, managed to cover against MSU.
Central has two pushes to go with its 1-1 record against the spread and has played two games that weren’t on the board this season. The Chippewas lost to Division II Flagler, 92-73, and managed to beat NAIA St. Francis in Illinois, 91-39.