Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 7:00 AM
There are two very clear and obvious storylines entering Saturday Night’s nationally televised showdown between the #6 Wisconsin Badgers and the unranked Michigan Wolverines. First, Wisconsin is coming off a fantastic performance vs. Iowa in a game many of you probably watched on Tuesday. Basketball at its best! Second, Michigan may have collapsed! This historic power has completely fallen off the map in the 2014-15 season.
It’s not that Michigan fell out of the top 25. Michigan didn’t just fall out of the top 50 either. Michigan may have fallen out of the top 100! Respected college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy currently has Michigan ranked #97 in the country, only one spot ahead of in-state non-rival Central Michigan. If the Wolverines struggle here…which is certainly likely…they could easily be out of the top 100 by Monday morning.
If you’ve been fully focused on football, here are the Michigan lowlights you missed.
Michigan (-23) lost to the New Jersey Institute of Technology 72-70
Michigan (-14) lost to Eastern Michigan 45-42
Michigan (+11) lost at Arizona 80-53
Michigan (-2.5) lost to SMU 62-51
Michigan (+3.5) lost at Purdue 64-51
Michigan (+9) lost to Ohio State 71-52
When ESPN set this up for a national telecast before the season began…they were expecting a battle of Big 10 powers. This Michigan program has been a mainstay of March Madness coverage in recent years, making it all the way to the finals vs. Louisville not too long ago. How could they lost to NJIT and Eastern Michigan in back-to-back games?! They were barely on the same floor with Arizona in Tucson.
Let’s look for answers in JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats.
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Wisconsin: 122.5 per 100 possessions (#2 in the nation)
Michigan: 101.7 per 100 possessions (#160 in the nation)
You probably didn’t need to know the adjusted numbers (pace and schedule strength) given how poor the offense looked in the scoring list above. This team has trouble getting past the mid 50’s vs. anyone who knows what they’re doing. It’s a stunning reversal of form from recent seasons…where Michigan was extremely efficient with the ball. It’s like they only recruited players who couldn’t shoot! We talked a lot about Wisconsin in our Iowa preview…which is why we’re so focused on Michigan today. You already know Wisconsin is truly elite. The win over Iowa only drove the point home even further. MONSTROUS edge to Wisconsin in this category. (Note that efficiency stats for all college teams can be found at Pomeroy’s website, kenpom.com)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Wisconsin: 94.9 per 100 possessions (#61 in the nation)
Michigan: 95.0 per 100 possessions (#64 in the nation)
Surprise! These defenses are dead even. If you’re dreaming big dreams as a Wisconsin fan about the Final Four…keep in mind that defense wins championships. It’s very tough to outscore opponents six games in a row in the Dance when the offense has to carry so much of the burden. There will be a game or two where the shots don’t fall. Can you survive those without a top 50 defense?
Both teams play extremely slow. In fact, Michigan and Wisconsin are very similar in offensive philosophy. Hold the ball for a good shot…patiently get that good shot…and make it or score off the rebound. Both offenses have been better than the mainstream media has been giving them credit for in recent seasons. Slow pace kept the scoreboard from looking as awesome as it should. In terms of handicapping this matchup…it just means that the visiting warrior in a letdown spot won’t be taken out of its comfort zone. Wisconsin loves a slow game.
Against the Spread
Michigan’s troubles certainly caught the market by surprise. But, we obviously cherry-picked their worst losses for the list above. It’s not like they’re 0-17 ATS! They are failing to get the money about two-thirds of the time. They will need to really lift their game to compete Saturday night…or to hope that Wisconsin is flat as a pancake off that big Tuesday performance.
JIM HURLEY will be working closely with his sources to determine Wisconsin’s mindset here. This could be another gift game if they’re ready to perform against outmanned Michigan. But, the Wolverines may be primed for an upset special if Wiscy is flat. This game may or may not be part of the final Saturday mix. It’s a HUGE schedule and NETWORK clients only get the very best! You can always purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155.
We’ll move to the NBA tomorrow since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are facing LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on national TV. Here’s what’s ahead in the NOTEBOOK…
Sunday: NBA Preview…OKC Thunder at the Cleveland Cavaliers
Monday: College Basketball Preview…#17 Texas at #8 Iowa State
Tuesday-Sunday: Super Bowl coverage!
We will be going in depth throughout Super Bowl week with statistical reports on the offenses and defenses of both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Basketball takes a back seat on these pages as we prepare for one of the most anticipated Super Bowls ever! Then, we’ll resume our trek down The Road to March Madness in plenty of time to get you ready for the Dance.
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