PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (4-0)
vs. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (3-0)
NIT Season Tip-Off – New York, NY
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan -3.5, Total: 124.5
Pittsburgh will get a chance to make some early season noise when it clashes with No. 4 Michigan in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Michigan has proven to have one of the nation’s most potent offenses in the early going (89.3 PPG), led by the dynamic guard duo of Trey Burke (18.3 PPG, 8.0 APG) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (17.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG). While Burke has been a phenomenal scorer and passer this year, the Panthers have been one of the nation’s best passing offenses (19.3 APG, 16th in D-I), led by senior and New York native Trey Woodall (13.8 PPG, 7.3 APG).
Can Pittsburgh knock off the No. 4 team in the nation? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. This season, the experts are a collective 48-44-2 ATS (52.2%) on Best Bets. StatFox Scott has had a perfect record in the past two nights, going 5-0 ATS to improve to 56% ATS (9-7-1) for the season. StatFox Gary is 9-5 ATS (64%) in the past eight days and 58% ATS (11-8) Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 10-5 ATS (67%) since Saturday, including a perfect 4-0 ATS on Monday. He's at 53% ATS (16-13) for the season.
The one advantage the Panthers may have is a comfort at Madison Square Garden, where they are 28-14 since the 2001-2002 season. But even though the Panthers are undefeated this season, that hasn’t come easy. They almost lost at home to a weak Oakland squad, losing by as many as 18 points in the second half—only to rally for a late victory. Forward Talib Zanna leads the Panthers with 14.0 PPG, but plays only 19.8 MPG. The key player might be senior forward Dante Taylor, who averages just 6.0 PPG but leads the team with 7.5 RPG and at 6-foot-9 will be critical in keeping the Wolverines off the block. J.J. Moore (13.3 PPG) has been the sharp-shooter, scoring at a 55% FG clip including 6-of-13 from three-point range.
The most impressive part of Michigan’s guard play is their three-point shooting. Hardaway and Burke combine for 5.0 threes per game with Hardaway hitting 8-of-11 threes and Burke knocking down 7-of-16 from long range. The duo is a big reason the team hits 53.1% of their shots from downtown. Beyond that pair, the Wolverines are led by some extremely talented freshmen, including Glenn Robinson III, who is third on the team with 13.3 PPG, also adding 7.0 RPG. Six-foot-10 freshman Mitch McGary ties Hardaway for the team lead in rebounds with 7.7 RPG, but McGary has done so in just 13.3 MPG, a remarkable feat. He should only improve as he gets more time and continues to develop his offensive game in the process.