The 64-team field tips off with Michigan and Colorado State meeting in Indianapolis at 12:15 p.m. ET on Thursday for the first game of the first round. It’s an intriguing matchup where a mid-major is the higher seed (sixth). But Colorado State (25-5) earned it with a strong showing through the Mountain West Conference and nonconference wins over Saint Mary’s, Creighton, and Bradley.
Michigan (17-14) limped into the dance going 5-5 down the stretch, but that’s the reward of playing in the Big Ten. They have season splits with tournament teams Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State, and Rutgers, which played in the First Four Wednesday.
The line opened at Michigan -2.5 with an over/under of 140, but the line has since moved to Michigan -1 with an over/under of 136.5 as of this writing. Also, as of this writing, 65% of the bets were on Michigan to win and cover. But on Wednesday afternoon, the news was released that the Wolverines would be without starting point guard DeVante’ Jones, who is in concussion protocol. Check out March Madness Odds, analysis, and a free prediction for Michigan Wolverines versus Colorado State Rams.
Men’s College Basketball March Madness Betting: #11 Michigan vs #6 Colorado State Match Preview
Michigan Wolverines Betting Preview: Dominate the paint
Michigan will have the frontcourt advantage with nobody to match the size and strength of Hunter Dickinson at 7-foot-1, 260 pounds. The all-conference pick averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game this season. He’ll be able to do a little bit of everything.
Factor in 6-11 Moussa Diabate, and there should be quality looks around the rim, either guards penetrating off ball screens or post touches.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Wolverines adjust without Jones. They are the 130th ranked offense in scoring (73.2 ppg) and are 38th in efficiency at 47.1%. Conversely, they are 205th defensively, allowing teams to score 69.7 points per game and teams to hit shots at a 44.7% clip, 266th nationally.
Colorado State Rams Betting Preview: Flip the switch
Especially with Jones out, Colorado State will have the backcourt advantage. David Roddy and Isaiah Rivera, both 6-5 guards, are the top two scorers for the Rams at 19.5 and 14.8 points per game, respectively.
They also have John Tonje at 6-5 and Kendle Moore at 5-10 to counter with a smaller lineup. Those are the top four scorers, and each can generate switches with high ball screens to get Dickinson and Diabate defending the perimeter.
Colorado State is 78th nationally in scoring at 75.0 points per game and was top-60 in efficiency. The Rams converted 48.7% of field goal attempts (14th), 36.6% of 3-point attempts (51st), and are seventh in free throw percentage (78.8%).
Limiting turnovers will be key for Colorado State. It’ll be interesting to see if or how they deploy 6-11 Jacob Jennissen, who averaged 1 minute of action over five games, to counteract foul trouble and Michigan’s bigs.
When comparing team sheets, Colorado State was 20 spots higher in the strength of record and was 13-4 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games versus Michigan’s 8-13 record.
Overall, Colorado State was 14-15 against the spread and 10-19 on over/under while going 6-3 in true road games and 5-1 in neutral court games. Michigan was 13-18 against the spread, 19-12 on over/under and 5-7 in true road games, and 2-2 in neutral court settings.
It’s a guards game, and Colorado State is well equipped to take advantage of Michigan’s bigs and should cover +1 and even win outright.