Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 10:39 PM
No time to rest for the weary Michigan Wolverines. Just hours after getting knocked off their #1 perch by the Indiana Hoosiers in a huge Saturday Night game, they must now prepare for a rematch with potent Ohio State…one of the only two teams to beat them so far this season.
Sports bettors will be considering both the “revenge” factor and the “bounce back” factor for the Wolverines. Those two keys alone could be worth as many as 5-10 points if channeled properly. Yet, the “big game hangover” effect could also be in play. Often, when two titans go to war in a huge regular season game (and Saturday Night’s game in Bloomington featured an intensity that you don’t find in too many regular season showdowns), both powers involved often have troubles playing at peak intensity the next time out.
Will Michigan enter Tuesday Night’s game breathing fire? Or, is the gas tank still low, meaning the true bounce back won’t happen for a few more days? Those are serious questions for handicappers to consider. Let’s run through our key indicator stats to see what the starting based should be before you reward or penalize Michigan for intangibles.
Ohio State: 17-4 (7-2 in the Big Ten)
Michigan: 20-2 (7-2 in the Big Ten)
You can see how important this game is in the Big Ten. Michigan could conceivably fall down to third place in the conference after being number one in the nation just a few days ago! Michigan was a perfect 13-0 before league play began. Their first loss was in Columbus against these very Buckeyes, where they fell way behind early before rallying to suffer a close loss. Two impressive teams. If all other things were equal, Michigan would be seen as the superior team on a neutral court. Will all other things be equal?
Ohio State: #7 with Sagarin, #11 with Pomeroy
Michigan: #3 with Sagarin, #3 with Pomeroy
There’s a lot of respect for both teams with Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. Michigan is still at #3 even though they’ve lost a couple of games. Ohio State averages out as a top 10 caliber team themselves. The deeper we get into the season, the more likely it seems that the Big Ten will be playing a huge role in the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds come Marcy.
COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
Ohio State: #53 with Sagarin, #54 with Pomeroy
Michigan: #17 with Sagarin, #24 with Pomeroy
Important to note here that Michigan went undefeated in non-conference action while playing the tougher schedule. Ohio State didn’t challenge themselves early, knowing that the Big Ten was going to be plenty difficult enough. Michigan looks to be very well poised for a great run in March given how well they’ve played vs. one of the 25 toughest schedules in basketball. Remember, there are more than 300 teams being measured by the computers. If you personally believe as a handicapper that Michigan will bring peak intensity Tuesday, then this stat gives you some extra firepower for a Las Vegas bet on the home favorite.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN’S TOP 50
Ohio State: 3-3
As does this one. Ohio State is only 3-3 vs. the top 50…which isn’t necessarily fantastic for a team that’s seen as top 10. Are they about to be exposed as a pretender tonight? A Michigan win in Ann Arbor moves the Wolverines to 6-2, while Ohio State falls below .500 to 3-4. That would surely be suggesting something about the team’s varied expectations in the Dance.
JOE LUNARDI’S BRACKETOLOGY
Ohio State: projected #3 seed
Michigan: projected #1 seed
Lunardi hasn’t updated his projections since Saturday Night yet (at least as of press time for this article), so Michigan is still in line for a #1 seed at ESPN’s website. We can’t argue with that. We surely see them as one of the best four teams in the nation right now. A loss to the Buckeyes would alter that view needless to say. How many teams will the Big 10 ultimately have seeded for the Sweet 16?
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
Ohio State: #17
Now let’s move to the nuts and bolts of matchup handicapping. Both teams have excellent offenses. When you adjust for strength of schedule and tempo, nobody has a better offense than Michigan. This has been hidden to a degree because they play a slower tempo than most other big game programs. When you look at points per possession, adjusted for schedule…the Wolverines are the best. Ohio State is top 20, which is high quality as well.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
Ohio State: #9
This is where Ohio State has a fighting chance…and where Michigan may be vulnerable come March. You saw some defensive issues for the Wolverines vs. Indiana (who admittedly has lethal weaponry…but you’re going to run into that in the Dance!). If “defense wins championships,” then Ohio State is a better darkhorse than you might have been thinking…and Michigan might run into a hot opponent that puts up a number they can’t reach. It was certainly defensive vulnerability that launched Ohio State to that big lead over Michigan in the first meeting.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
Ohio State: #181
We post these to help you visualize how the game is likely to be played…and to remind you that the home team typically dictates its preferred tempo. That was a problem for Michigan in Bloomington because the game was so frenzied. Ohio State isn’t as fast as Indiana…but is faster than Michigan, and used that to their advantage in Columbus. Now, it’s Michigan who should be positioned at home to take the Buckeyes out of their comfort zone.
Before intangibles…you get Michigan as the superior team, who’s likely to enforce their preferred tempo on the game. That lines up with the early Vegas line here. YOU have to determine what role the intangibles are going to play. Will Michigan bring peak intensity off a loss AND in a revenge spot? Or, will they still be reeling from Saturday’s high profile loss?
JIM HURLEY has been thinking long and hard about those questions himself. In fact, he spent Saturday Night’s game outlining handicapping plans for both the Wolverines and Hoosiers for the next several days…and for the postseason. Every TV game gives you a chance to pick future winners! To find out if Ohio State/Michigan made the cut Tuesday, check out the purchase page here at this website. Top game day releases are always available for credit card purchase.
If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Football is over. This is a great time to get locked in for MARCH MADNESS at fantastic rates.
Other Tuesday possibilities we’re looking at:
Florida at Arkansas on ESPN
South Carolina at Kentucky on ESPNU
LA Lakers at Brooklyn (must-win for the Lakers!)
Atlanta at Indiana (playoff preview?)
Golden State at Houston (playoff intensity!)
Back with you tomorrow here in the NOTEBOOK for more basketball. Be sure you’re with us EVERY DAY on THE ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS! You’re going to love HOOP-DU-JOUR with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!