NCAAB Virginia vs. Michigan Betting Predictions, Picks, Odds (11/29/22)

After a glorious Feast Week that featured some high-profile non-conference matchups in tournament play, we now roll into the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with more entertaining matchups on deck. Tonight features the Virginia Cavaliers going against the Michigan Wolverines in what will be one of the key matchups that decides which conference wins this challenge.

Virginia Vs. Michigan Odds

Oddsmakers have this as a tight one in favor of Virginia after opening them up at -4.5. Bettors were quick to pounce the other way, hitting Michigan to as low as +3.5 in some shops. This is puzzling to me as Virginia is looking like their championship selves with advantages on both sides of the court.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a premium as oddsmakers opened this up at 130.5 and has dipped to as low as 128.5 in some shops as of writing. This comes as little surprise on paper as Virginia is known for their extremely slow tempo and soul sucking defensive style of play.

Virginia Vs. Michigan Prediction & Pick

The Pick: UVA -3.5

It pains me to say this, but Virginia might be back. After a rebuilding year last year that just didn’t have enough talent to compete with the elite, Virginia has quickly bounced back this season with an undefeated record that includes a win against Baylor.

They have maintained their same identity as always, ranking near dead last in tempo and fielding their suffocating defense that ranks top-20 in AdjD per Kenpom. Forcing opponents into low quality shot selections with their stretch defense, they then slow the game to a halt and facilitate until they create the best opportunity for themselves. 

It’s an infuriating style of play that has proven to be super successful over the past few years and I struggle to see how Michigan can combat it after their recent struggles against a far inferior level of competition.

The main catalyst to their early season woes is the lack of defense. Michigan currently ranks 86th in AdjD, a rarity as Michigan has built an identity over the past few years in playing sound defense. 

I am hard pressed to see how they improve in that metric against one of the most efficient offenses in basketball who specialize in team play and the ability to burn you in multiple ways with numerous players on the court.

Virginia Vs. Michigan Key Matchups

Can Virginia limit Hunter Dickinson’s on court production? How will Michigan limit Virginia’s perimeter shooting?

Hunter Dickinson vs Virginia defense

Familiar face Hunter Dickinson is back and is once again dominating for the Michigan offense. The offensive identity has heavily shifted towards his usage as nearly every possession runs through Dickinson.

His scoring ability has sucked defenses down to the low block, allowing Michigan to get more looks from deep. Only one issue, Michigan has not shown the ability to knock it down from deep as they currently shoot 31.8% from the perimeter.

While still a vaunted defense, Virginia actually is prone to giving up looks from deep in favor of limiting quality looks down low. If Michigan can find their stroke, they can keep up with Virginia’s prolific offense. Especially if Hunter abuses UVA big man Kadin Shedrick with a decent size advantage. Dickinson is one of the best low block scoring big men in basketball.

Virginia’s high quality shooting vs Michigan perimeter defense

Virginia has quickly found life on offense in comparison to last year as they currently rank top-5 in AdjO per Kenpom. Getting high quality looks was a struggle last year, an area they vastly improved on this time around with more efficient passing.

They are the epitome of team play with eight players playing meaningful minutes and four of them in double digit scoring. When Reece Beekman and Kihei Clark get in a groove with their facilitating, averaging a combined 10.4 assists per game, this offense really opens up and pours it on you.

Molding to an even more modern style of play, they strictly limit themselves to a high quality three, or stretch you out enough for a look down low. With Michigan’s defense struggling, I see little to no reason Virginia’s offense doesn’t efficiently put them away fast and early.

Verdict

Take Virginia at -3.5 or better in what will be another impressive notch on their belt as they round back into championship level form.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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