San Diego State vs. Michigan Betting Odds
Michigan was the front-runner to win the Big Ten conference and one of the favorites to win the title. Juwan Howard was back to defend his AP National Coach of the Year award, and things were looking up in Ann Arbor
That feels like ages ago now. Michigan has been brutal this season, most recently putting forth a pathetic effort against North Carolina. Devante’ Jones has not been the answer Mike Smith was at point guard.
Meanwhile, San Diego State has been utterly average. The team has won all the games it was supposed to win, but it was non-competitive in its Quad 1 opportunities.
So, can SDSU come up with a signature win over a struggling Michigan team?
San Diego State Aztecs Odds
The Aztecs are defined by their defensive prowess. Brian Dutcher has devised a system that is almost impossible to score on.
The Aztecs prevent shots in transition, prevent shots at the rim, and play hard-nosed on the perimeter. When all three of those opportunities are unavailable, that leaves the opponent with only one option.
That’s long, grueling offensive possessions that end in inefficient 2-point jump shots. San Diego State forces the eighth longest average length of possession in the nation, at 18.9 seconds. Within those possessions, only 26.9% come at the rim (11th lowest) and only 31.7% come from 3 (45th lowest).
All-in-all, the Aztecs rank eighth in defensive efficiency (89.6) and 10th in defensive effective field goal percentage (41.3%). Butcher may have lost a few starters, but the system works the same nonetheless.
Offensively, things could be a lot better. The Aztecs have been one of the least efficient teams scoring, and nobody is stepping up to score. However, SDSU has largely compensated by getting to the line at the 26th highest rate (40.2% FTA/FGA).
Michigan Wolverines Odds
Michigan is broken.
However, the problems can be fixed. Hunter Dickinson and Eli Brooks are still contributing at expected levels, but the rest of the roster isn’t.
The Wolverines have two main problems.
First: Jones has not seamlessly transitioned into Michigan’s point guard role. While he’s dishing out a good amount of assists, Jones has a higher turnover rate (29.6%) than assist rate (26.6%). He’s been somewhat efficient as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, but Brooks has been far better, and that’s not the Michigan recipe for winning.
Second: Caleb Houstan isn’t there yet. As a true freshman, it’s okay that Houstan has been rather inefficient in his new role. But for Michigan to operate at its highest level, he has to somewhat replicate what Isaiah Livers did last season.
So far, Houstan has a 90.8 ORtg while scoring less than 10 points per game on 35% shooting. He’s flashed signs of his potential at times, but he has shown immense inexperience at others.
Going forward, those two must grow into their roles. Moreover, Howard is hoping Moussa Diabete produces more in his role behind Dickinson. While Diabete has been efficient on offense and a solid offensive rebounder, he’s still turning the ball over almost two times per game.
Prediction and Pick
My pick: San Diego State +5.5 or better
As I wrote: Michigan is broken.
However, there are other reasons that there’s value on the Aztecs. The most obvious one is the two team’s defenses, which are both long and stifling. Considering Michigan’s offensive issues and the Aztecs’ lack of reliable scoring options, this game is going to be a rock fight.
Whenever that’s the case, the value is generally on the underdog. I’m expecting this total to hang in the 120s, and if that’s the case, whichever team wins won’t do so by more than a few points.
I’ll gladly take SDSU and the 5+ points here.