Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#615 Michigan -4.5 vs.
#616 Nebraska 148
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#615 University of Michigan
#616 University of Nebraska–Lincoln
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The Michigan Wolverines will head to Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, New England on Tuesday evening as they prepare for a Big 10 Conference showdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Both of these teams are in desperate need of a win. Michigan enters the week riding a four-game conference losing streak while Nebraska has lost five straight Big 10 contests to come in with a 2-7 record in league play. The Wolverines are a half-game ahead of the Cornhuskers in the Big 10 standings with a 2-6 conference record. Can Michigan stop their slide on the road against the Cornhuskers on Tuesday night?

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Wolverines can't stop slide versus Illinois

Michigan is mired in a four-game conference slide after dropping its last game at home against Illinois on Saturday. Zavier Simpson scored 17 points while Franz Wagner and Jon Teske chipped in 12 points apiece for the Wolverines in a 64-62 loss. The Wolverines shot just 4-for-17 from long range and 12-for-21 from the charity stripe as a team to fall to 2-6 in Big 10 play. Simpson will be suspended for this one and that could hurt the Wolverines a bit.

Juwan Howard’s first season in Ann Arbor has taken a turn for the worse since the start of 2020 and Michigan has slid to No. 32 in the latest KenPom rankings. The Wolverines have dropped five of their last six games, a stretch which coincided with the loss of junior Isaiah Livers. Livers returned on a minutes limit in the Wolverines’ last game against Illinois and potentially could see his workload increase against the Cornhuskers.

The Wolverines have scored 111.9 points per 100 possessions for the season (34th in the NCAA) but that number has come back down to earth during Big 10 play. Michigan is averaging just 104.1 points per 100 possessions versus conference opponents (3rd in the Big 10) and the Wolverines have turned the ball over just 15.6 percent of the time on offense (1st in the NCAA). They rank first in 2-point shooting at 53.7 percent but dead-last from beyond the arc, knocking down just 27.4 percent of their attempts from behind the 3-point line (14th in the Big 10).

On defense, the Wolverines have given up only 94.6 points per 100 possessions for the season (52nd in the NCAA) but that number has skyrocketed to a league-worst 110.2 points per 100 possessions (14th in the Big 10) versus Big 10 opponents. Through eight league contests, they’ve allowed opponents to sport an effective field goal percentage of 52.2 percent, which also ranks last in the Big 10.

Nebraska loses fifth straight vs. Rutgers

The Cornhuskers extended its current losing streak to a season-high five games on Saturday with a 75-72 loss on the road against Rutgers. Cam Mack scored 19 points and Thorir Thorbjarnarson chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds for Nebraska, which took a late six-point lead after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half. However, they went scoreless over the final 3:09, as Rutgers closed the game on a 9-0 run.

Fred Hoiberg’s first season in Lincoln is off to a rocky 7-13 start, including a 2-7 start in conference play, and the Cornhuskers enter the week slotted at No. 131 in the latest KenPom rankings. Nebraska has scored 105.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (116th in the NCAA) but only 99.7 points per 100 possessions during conference play (12th in the Big 10). Hoiberg’s squad does a good job of taking care of the basketball in league play, turning the ball over just 13.1 percent of the time (2nd in the Big 10). However, they’ve shot just 45.8 percent from inside the arc (11th in the Big 10) and 64.3 percent from the charity stripe as a team through nine conference games (13th in the Big 10).

On defense, Nebraska has surrendered 102.0 points per 100 possessions (152nd in the NCAA) on the year and 106.7 points per 100 possessions during conference play. Big 10 opponents have been able to get nearly whatever they’ve wanted at the rim against the Cornhuskers’ defense, which has allowed opponents to shoot 54.6 percent from inside the arc (14th in the Big 10) with an offensive rebounding rate of 34.4 percent (14th in the Big 10).

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Neither of these teams has been playing well as of late. Nebraska has a couple of Big 10 wins on their resume this season but they’ve lost five in a row and rank near the bottom of the conference on both ends of the floor. Meanwhile, Juwan Howard’s squad has lost four straight and five of their last six games. With that being said, I don’t see this one being very close. I expect Michigan will have their way in the paint and on the offensive glass in this game. The Wolverines do most of its damage from inside the arc and the Cornhuskers rank as the worst 2-point defense in the conference. With Livers back and expected to see at least 20 minutes in this game, it’s hard to go against Michigan in this spot. Take the Wolverines to cover the number on the road against Nebraska on Tuesday night, despite the fact that they are missing Simpson. 

Prediction: Michigan Wolverines

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Michigan’s season-long pace numbers might not impress anyone but don’t overlook the over in this game. The Wolverines rank 173rd in adjusted tempo and 144th in average possession length on offense. However, they have been playing faster during conference play and they rank fourth in the Big 10 in both of those categories. Meanwhile, no Big 10 team gets their shots up faster on offense than the Cornhuskers, who are averaging just 15.7 seconds per offense possession during conference play. Nebraska and Michigan also rank 11th and 14th, respectively, in defensive efficiency coming into this game, so look for this matchup to go over the projected total on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.