MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (13-0)
at NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (9-4)
Welsh-Ryan Arena Ė Evanston, IL
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan -11, Total: 129.5
No. 2 Michigan will put its undefeated record on the line as it travels to Evanston to begin Big Ten play against Northwestern.
The question in this one is if the Wildcats can tame Michiganís efficient offense that is hitting 51.1% of its shots, 5th-best in the nation. The Wildcats are holding opponents to a pithy 39.8% shooting, and will be tasked with stopping an offense that is averaging 87.3 PPG in its past three games.
Can the Wolverines stay unbeaten with a huge win on Thursday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts continue to roll in the past three weeks, posting a collective 66-42-1 ATS (61%) record since Dec. 14. StatFox Gary is 20-9 ATS (69%) in this span, while StatFox Scott is 14-8-1 ATS (64%) and StatFox Dave is 21-15 ATS (58%) during this span. The experts now have a collective 54.1% ATS mark (180-153-7) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 63% ATS (44-26) for the season, while Dave is at 54% ATS (63-54-2) on the year with both Scott and StatFox Brian at an even 50% ATS.
Michiganís high-powered offense (80.1 PPG) is led by national player of the year candidate G Trey Burke (17.8 PPG, 7.4 APG), who has been incredibly efficient on the offensive end this year. Not only is he making 53.6% FG, he is only turning the ball over 1.9 times per game, which is quite a feat considering how much he has the ball in his hands. G Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG) joins him to form a nasty backcourt tandem. He has been slowed by an ankle injury, but it expected to start on Thursday night. Six-foot-6 freshman G Nik Stauskas (13.8 PPG) joins them back there and he has been lights out in his first year, making 56.5% of his three-point attempts. Fellow freshman F Glenn Robinson III (12.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has been effective in the frontcourt, joined by forwards Mitch McGary (5.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and Jordan Morgan (7.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG). If they can hold their own on the boards, the backcourt should be able to score enough to make this an easy win.
The Wildcats rely heavily on their starting five with four players averaging more than 30 MPG. But the will likely be without their top two players as F/G Drew Crawford (13.5 PPG) is out for the season (shoulder) and senior G Reggie Hearn (team-high 14.5 PPG) is doubtful to play because of an ankle injury. That will put more of the scoring onus on sophomore G Dave Sobolewski (11.3 PPG), who leads the team in MPG at 34.4 and passing with 4.3 APG. The key for them though might be 6-foot-8 senior F Jared Swopshire (8.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG). Michigan, for all its skills, isnít dominant on the boards (37.4 RPG, 97th in nation) and if Swopshire has a big game, he could give the Wildcats the second-chance opportunities they need to stay competitive in this game.