Michigan has an opponent for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and the Wolverines are heavily favored.
The Wolverines will face Texas Southern at 3 p.m. on Saturday after the Tigers earned a comeback victory over Mount St. Mary’s in a First Four matchup on Thursday.
Naturally, sportsbooks have the No. 1 seeded Wolverines as massive sports betting favorites. FanDuel has Michigan favored by 25.5 points with the total points set at 142.5.
The winner will advance to the Round of 32 and face the winner of LSU and St. Bonaventure.
Texas Southern earned an NCAA bid after claiming the SWAC championship with a win over Praire View A&M. The Tigers have been rolling, winning their 10th consecutive game with the victory against Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday. Texas Southern trailed by 10 at the half before rallying for a 60-52 victory.
The highest-scoring team in the SWAC, Texas Southern is averaging 74.2 points per contest and has averaged 77.7 during its 10-game winning streak. Michael Weathers leads the team with 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, while John Walker III adds 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. Weathers has either scored or assisted on 40% of all Texas Southern’s made baskets over the last five games, accounting for 32 field goals and 23 assists in that span.
If Texas Southern was to pull off the upset, it would be just the second time in history a No. 16 seed as beaten a No. 1. The only other time it happened came in 2018 when UMBC topped Virginia, 74-54.
But those looking to place a pregame wager on FanDuel in hopes of a miracle are out of luck. There are currently no moneyline odds posted for the matchup between Michigan and Texas Southern.
Saturday will mark the second straight game the Wolverines will be without Isaiah Livers, who is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game and is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot. Livers is also the second-most efficient 3-point shooter at 43.1%.
His presence was clearly missed in the 68-67 loss to Ohio State. Michigan made just 20 of 57 shots (35%) and was only 6 of 19 from 3 (31%). Without him, Coach Juwan Howard went with a bigger lineup, electing to start Brandon Johns Jr.
Chaundee Brown also had increased minutes and is typically a reliable shooter from the perimeter, but he was just 1 of 6 overall, including 1 for 3 from 3-point range against Ohio State. Add in Johns’ 0-3 output from the field, and the two key players to replace Livers were a combined 1 of 9 shooting. But playing an opponent where Michigan is heavily favored could give Johns and Brown an opportunity to develop offensive confidence and rhythm going forward.
Despite Livers’ absence, Michigan will have a big advantage in the post with 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson. The freshman leads the team at 14.2 points per game and is making 60% of his shot attempts this season. Dickinson could be poised for a big game on Saturday. Texas Southern’s tallest players are 6-foot-9, giving him a size advantage the Wolverines will look to exploit inside.
This tournament is the first for residents in Michigan where mobile sports betting and online casino gaming are live in the state. Those platforms officially launched on Jan. 22.