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Northwestern at No. 2 Michigan
When and Where: Sunday, Jan. 13, Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich., 7:30 p.m. EST.
Seeking its best start in the 109-year history of the program, No. 2 Michigan looks to remain one of the two Division I unbeatens Sunday when it goes for a sweep of Big Ten rival Northwestern.
Wildcats still seeking marquee victory to bolster NCAA hopes
Northwestern (10-6, 1-4 Big Ten) gave Michigan everything it could handle in Evanston last month, losing 62-60 as a Wolverines team that had won its first eight games by 17 or more points heading into that contest scraped through its first challenge.
One of the best in the business.
— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) January 11, 2019
Coming up short in such games, though, has been a theme for the Wildcats, whose best victories have been over Utah on a neutral court and Georgia Tech at home. Northwestern was unable to build on its first conference victory, losing 73-63 at home Wednesday night to an Iowa team without leading scorer and rebounder Tyler Cook.
Anthony Gaines had 13 points and Vic Law added 13 and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who were still outrebounded 40-32 despite Cook’s absence and shot 7 for 27 from 3-point range and 38.6 percent overall.
“He missed some shots he normally takes,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins told the Chicago Tribune about Law, who went 4 for 13. “He knows he has the green light to take them.”
Law, who is averaging a team-high 17.3 points, is a 35.6 percent shooter from 3-point range but has gone 0 for 9 from beyond the arc in his last two games and 1 for 14 in the last three.
Derek Pardon is contributing 13.4 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game, while Ryan Taylor is averaging 12.4 points. Northwestern has lost 11 of its last 12 Big Ten road games against ranked opponents, with the lone victory a 66-59 win at then-No. 7 Wisconsin in February 2017.
The Wildcats — who are trying to end a seven-game skid at Crisler Arena dating to a 68-62 win in 2010 — are also 0-25 against Top 5 teams dating back to the start of the 1996-97 season.
Michigan 16-0 for just third time in school history
The second-ranked Wolverines, who are locked in a battle for the Big Ten lead with Michigan State, have started 16-0 just twice previously in 1985-86 and 2012-13. The 1985-86 team was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while the 2012-13 reached the title game and lost to Louisville.
Also runner-up last season, Michigan improved to 5-0 in Big Ten play after turning back Illinois 79-69 on the road Thursday night. Zavier Simpson had 16 points and eight assists as all five starters finished in double figures.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 11, 2019
The Wolverines outscored the Illini 18-4 at the foul line to offset shooting 5 of 19 from 3-point range. The other key was valuing the basketball as Michigan committed just three of its 14 turnovers after halftime.
“Coach got on us about it,” Simpson told The Associated Press. ”I think we had 11 in the first half, but we cleaned it up after that. It’s important to be disciplined.”
Simpson is second in the Big Ten in assists at 6.1 per game. Ignas Brazdeikis, who scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half of the win at Northwestern, paces Michigan in scoring at 15.9 per contest. Charles Matthews (15.2 ppg) and Jordan Poole (14.8) are also significant contributors on offense, with Poole shooting 45.2 percent from deep.
Michigan is 11-0 at home, holding opponents to 56.4 points per game on 39.9 percent shooting. The Wolverines are holding teams to 56.4 points per game overall, good for third in the country.
- 24-7-1 ATS in its last 32 games vs. Big Ten opponents.
- 5-0 ATS in its last five games as a favorite between 7-12.5 points.
- 10-1 ATS in its last 11 Sunday games.
- The under is 5-1-1 in its last seven home games vs. Northwestern.
- The under is 8-2 in its last 10 games vs. above-.600 teams.
- The under is 6-2-1 in its last nine games as a favorite between 7-12.5 points.
- 0-4 ATS in its last four games following a double-digit loss at home.
- 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.
- 2-7 ATS in its last nine games vs. Big Ten opponents.
- The under is 5-0-1 in its last six games vs. Big Ten opponents.
- The under is 6-1-1 in its last eight road games vs. teams with an above-.600 home record.
- The under is 19-7-1 in its last 27 games vs. above-.600 teams.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With six days off until their next game at Wisconsin next Saturday, Michigan can turn its full attention on Northwestern for this game. That is not a good sign for a team whose best scorer is struggling from the perimeter at the moment in Law.
Additionally, the only time the Wolverines have shot under 44 percent in their last 14 games was in the win at Northwestern. After a sloppy 20 minutes, look for Michigan coach John Beilein to get back to focusing on valuing the basketball and being more efficient on offense for a record-setting win.
Prediction: Pick: Michigan -12
Full-Game Total Pick
Law is struggling at the worst possible time for Northwestern, which desperately needs a victory to enhance its NCAA Tournament credentials. This game, however, is not where that begins as a ruthlessly efficient Wolverines team could wind up holding the Wildcats below 50 to deliver the under comfortably.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 126 points
Half-Time Side Pick
The Wolverines have led by double figures in two of their three home games in Big Ten play, and the expectation is that will continue in this contest, especially since they have played Northwestern once and know what to expect in terms of offensive sets.
Prediction: Pick: Michigan -7
Half-Time Total Bet
The teams combined for 66 first-half points last month, and with Michigan having scored 44 points in the first 20 minutes in two of their five conference games while averaging 37.6 in them, there is enough margin of error for the over to hit here.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 60 points