Northwestern Wildcats (19) vs. Michigan Wolverines (16) CBB Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions

January 1, 2021

Date:Sunday, January 3rd
Time:7:30 PM ET
Network:N/A
Venue:Crisler Center
Spread:Michigan -8.5
O/U:145

The 6-2 Northwestern Wildcats will go on the road Sunday night to face off with the 8-0 Michigan Wolverines at 7:30 PM ET in the Crisler Center. The Wolverines come in as 8.5-point home favorites and we’re expecting plenty of points with a 145 over/under. These teams are both hot to start the season and one fire will be simmered by game end. Let’s dive into how this one will go down and who will end up covering the spread. Make sure to check out the rest of our CBB Picks and Predictions as every big game will be covered. 

Trends

  • Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
  • Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
  • Under is 5-1 in Wildcats last 6 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Under is 4-1 in Wolverines last 5 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.

When The Northwestern Wildcats Have The Ball

The Wildcats have run the gauntlet recently, facing three ranked opponents in their last four with two in the top 10. They walked away with two wins over Michigan State and Ohio State and a loss to Iowa. The Wildcats are a scrappy and experienced team that knows their identity and how to win. They rarely shoot themselves in the foot and will always make the opposite team work for every basket. On paper, Northwestern is lethal. Of 300+ teams, they rank 59th in FG%, 6th in 3P%, 12th in assists, and 16th in turnovers. You’re not going to beat Northwestern without playing you’re best brand of basketball. 

Offensively, Northwestern is led by Miller Kopp down low. He’s up to 14.6 points per game, though he doesn’t do much in terms of peripherals. Chase Audige and Boo Buie take care of business on the outside with a combined 25 points per game. Buie is an elite passer with 5.6 assists a night. He could put up 10 if the offense was built differently. The Wildcats don’t play overly fast, but they also rarely let the shot clock fall below 10. Against Michigan, the Wildcats must play elite defense. The Wolverines offense is lethal and they haven’t been stopped to this point. 

When The Michigan Wolverines Have The Ball

The Wolverines will face their first ranked team of the season after mowing down their first eight unranked opponents. They did face some quality squads in Penn State and Maryland, and they blew both out. They’ve been unbelievably efficient to this point, ranking 8th in the country with a 52.3% field goal percentage. They also share the ball well (32nd in assists) and take good care of it (13 TOPG). On top of it all, Michigan ranks 21st in blocked shots with 5.1 per game. Nothing comes easy against these guys. 

Seven-foot-two freshman C Hunter Dickinson has burst onto the scene with 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. That’s all in just 25 minutes per game. He’s double-doubled in back to back games and looks to be a guy that will eventually have to rival Luka Garza if this Michigan team wants to make a real push. It’s something every team will have to consider this season and at least Michigan has a possible answer. Isaiah Livers helps on the inside as well with 14.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He can get hot and go for 25+ points on any given night. 

Franz Wagner is the only guard averaging double-figures, but he showed what he’s truly capable of with 19 and 20 points in each of the last two games. Remember, Michigan has played some weak competition and not everyone has played their full allotment of minutes. Eli Brooks, Mike Smith, and Chaundee Brown all average over nine points per game and one will inevitably emerge as the fourth-best scorer. For now, the Wolverines have seven legitimate scorers that can go for 15+. Until someone figures out how to slow down the big man, this will be a tough team to beat. 

Spread Prediction

The Pick: Michigan -8.5

The Wolverines look like one of the best teams in the county, albeit we are early in the season. Dickinson is a unit in the paint and he’s not your typical unathletic seven-footer. He’s savvy with the ball in his hands and never over-commits to anything. You then have Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, who are two CBB veterans that have been consistent of late. On the Northwestern side, they have to play close to perfect basketball just to keep this one close. The Wolverines are the better team on both sides of the ball and they also carry the pace advantage. Give me Michigan to win this one by double-figures as they slowly climb towards the top-10. 

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Total Prediction

The Pick: Under 145
Final Score Prediction: Michigan 75, Northwestern 65

It’s not like either of these offenses are going to light up the scoreboard. While extremely efficient from the field on both sides, that has a lot to do with patience and waiting for the best possible shot. I love the under in this game as I expect Michigan to stifle Northwestern down low. They aren’t a great perimeter shooting team and the presence of Dickinson will inevitably cause issues. Michigan will score their points, but Northwestern makes everything tough and it’s the best defense Michigan has faced to this point. It’s never fun to bet a college basketball under, but it’s the smart bet to make here as neither of these offenses will have an easy time. 

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