Sweet 16 Pick
Michigan is lucky to be in this spot. No one thought Texas A&M would get to this spot. And yet, here we are with both teams in the Sweet 16 battling at the Staples Center. As the 3-seed, the Wolverines are -3 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Michigan hasn’t lost since Feb. 6 and that’s reason enough to take the favorite here, but this team looked far from dominant in its two Tournament Games. It needed a buzzer beating 30-footer to take down Houston in the Round of 32 and had trouble scoring in the win against Montana. It’s also relevant that it hasn’t really seen this kind of size all season. Michigan State has close to the size of A&M, but it plays a much different brand of basketball.
The Aggies were considered one of the top teams in the country going into the season, but after some injuries and suspensions, that was no longer the case. But after blowing out the Tar Heels last round, everything seems to be clicking at the right time.
This will be an extremely interesting Game in terms of matchups. Both team rank well in rebounding numbers and that could play a huge part. Both also rank top-10 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency with this being arguably the best defensive group John Beilein has ever had. The Wolverines rank slightly better offensively, but after the Aggies dropped 86 points on North Carolina, it’s hard to say that ranking matters much.
Michigan’s task will be trying to defend both Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. Mortiz Wagner already had issues trying to stop Isaac Haas this season and Davis won’t be any easier. The same goes for Duncan Robinson, who will be tasked with the bigger and stronger Williams. It’s likely Michigan will help out as much as possible on those guys, although that will leave open shots to DJ Hogg, Admon Gilder and TJ Starks.
At the three spot, Charles Matthews also gives up plenty of size to Hogg, while the rest of the backcOurt is a little more even. Zavier Simpson’s defense on Starks will be key as Starks is playing great as a freshman and sets everything up for the offense. If Starks is contained, that will limit the pace of play for the Aggies.
The other end of the floor will be just as interesting because Williams and Davis will have a hard time defending Robinson and Wagner. Both Michigan bigs can step out and shoot the three and neither A&M defender is used to doing that. That being the case, the Aggies will likely roll with a zone defense the entire way in order to keep those guys in the paint and protecting the rim. With Williams one of the best shot blockers in the country, Michigan guards Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will have a difficult time getting shots up in the paint.
Michigan will have to rely on shooting and that’s not a guarantee for them even with almost everyone on the cOurt being able to hit a three. All of them have lacked consistency from three with Wagner the best shooter on the team according to the numbers. With Hogg on the perimeter, that should help deal with the taller Robinson and Wagner, as well.
The Wolverines have a longer winning streak, but their offense has really lacked in the first two Tournament Games. If they get beat up by Williams and Davis on the defensive end, they’ll need to play much better offense. Michigan may be the favorite, but the Aggies are playing better basketball and have just as much talent if not more.
Our Pick – Michigan -2.5