The first signs have emerged that Michigan’s basketball pause may take longer than expected. Michigan’s game against Illinois on Feb. 11 is likely to be postponed, according to MLive.com.
The matchup against the Illini was Michigan’s first scheduled opportunity to return after its initial two-week pause was set to end on Feb. 7. Due to five student-athletes at the university testing positive for the new COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant, the school decided to shut down all athletics for 14 days, including the men’s basketball team. Despite not playing, Michigan still sits atop the Big Ten with an 8-1 league record and 13-1 overall.
Oddsmakers still like Michigan in the futures market, even with uncertainty around whether or not the Wolverines will regain their form when they do return. Michigan is still the sports betting favorite on DraftKings to win the Big Ten at +250, and has the fourth-best odds to win the national title at +1000. Only Gonzaga (+310), Baylor (+310) and Villanova (+700) are ahead of the Wolverines.
There is some optimism Michigan could return in the coming weeks. The official team website announced tip times and broadcast schedule for the Wolverines’ next three games after the presumed postponed Illinois matchup.
Michigan’s Feb. 14 game at Wisconsin will start at noon EST on CBS. Then, the team will host Rutgers on Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. EST on FS1 before traveling to Ohio State on Feb. 21 for a 1 p.m. EST game on CBS Sports.
None of those opponents are cupcakes, and how Michigan gets through that gauntlet could determine the Big Ten regular-season champion. Wisconsin is DraftKings’ second favorite to win the Big Ten at +290 and sits 2 ½ games behind Michigan in the standings (14-5, 8-4 Big Ten), while Ohio State (14-4, 8-4) is also tied with Wisconsin for the fourth-best league mark. Rutgers has been playing better of late, also, with the Scarlet Knights (10-6, 6-6) on a three-game winning streak.
Before the pause, Michigan was a favorite for sports bettors to back. The Wolverines recorded an 11-3 mark against the spread and bettors in Michigan were able to win on the hometown team one time for the two-week pause.
Michigan’s last game was a 70-53 victory at Purdue on Jan. 22. Just hours before, online sports betting and internet casino gaming went live, allowing players in the state to bet from their mobile devices. Those who wagered on Michigan cashed out as a winner as the Wolverines easily covered the five-point spread as favorites.