For as bad as Michigan State has been against the spread, its rival in Ann Arbor has been on the opposite end of the spectrum in being able to cover this season.
Michigan has covered in seven of its nine games and remains unbeaten (9-0) while MSU is just 3-8 ATS this season.
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In a loaded Big Ten where the Wolverines were projected to finish sixth, Michigan has quickly established itself as a contender for the league title and has entered the national title picture with its latest No. 10 ranking.
But Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. matchup against the No. 16 Minnesota Gophers is expected to be one of Michigan’s first major tests of the season. It’s the Wolverines' second game against a ranked team, but the oddsmakers like Michigan’s chances to win.
The Wolverines opened as 6-point favorites before sports bettors moved the line up to -7.5 in Michigan’s favor. Michigan currently sits at -335 on the moneyline, while Minnesota is at +270. The total is at 152 for sports bettors in Michigan’s.
Expect more of these high-ranked matchups from the Wolverines going forward. As it stands, Michigan is set to close its season facing ranked teams in six of its final eight games.
Balance key for Michigan
A large part of Michigan’s success has been its balance on offense. The Wolverines currently have six players averaging at least 8.7 points per game, including three in double digits while Eli Brooks (9.9) and Chaundee Brown (9.7) nearly make it five players averaging at least 10 points per game.
Freshman Hunter Dickinson has performed like one of the best bigs in the country so far. He’s averaging 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The 7-foot-1 center keyed the Wolverines in the second half of Sunday’s 85-66 win over Northwestern by scoring 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
Isaiah Livers has made the most of his senior season after deciding to return following a brief flirtation with the NBA Draft last offseason. Livers is averaging 13.9 points per game and shooting 40.4% from 3-point range.
Franz Wagner gives the Wolverines another dynamic threat on the perimeter, averaging 12.2 points and 32% from 3. Both Livers and Wagner are projected to be second-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, and their stock may be rising as Michigan continues to win.
Two NBA-caliber talents and a dominant big have made this Michigan team fun to watch. But its depth also sets it apart.
Mike Smith (40.9%), Brown (39.5%) and Brooks (38.5%) have been strong from 3, and their ability to space the floor around Wagner, Dickinson and Livers makes this team exciting to watch. Their unselfish play style has them ranked 24th in the country in assists per game (18.1).
The advanced metrics like Michigan, too. According to the Pomeroy Basketball Ratings, Michigan has the seventh-most efficient offense in the country at 115.6.
Minnesota boasts one of the league’s top guards
A key for Michigan to remain unbeaten and continue its sterling record against the spread will be containing Minnesota’s Marcus Carr. The Gophers’ guard is third in the Big Ten in scoring (22.1) and leads the conference in assists per game (5.9).
Minnesota also loves to shoot 3s, taking the second-most 3-pointers in the Big Ten so far (304), trailing only Iowa (306). Strangely enough, the Gophers aren’t that efficient from beyond the arc. Their 30.9% from deep is the worst in the Big Ten.