The NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 continues tonight when the 11th-seed Tennessee Volunteers take on the two-seed Michigan Wolverines in the Midwest Region. The game is scheduled for a 7:15 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds for the game have Michigan favored by a single bucket over the Volunteers.
The Michigan Wolverines are favored by a little bit in this game as the oddsmakers believe this could be a down-to-the-wire contest. The Tennessee Volunteers could put Michigan in a tough spot tonight with their bigs and ability to play in half-court sets. Michigan has struggled all season with teams that don't allow them to run in transition and force the Wolverines to play half-court basketball. In Big Ten play Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State all go the best of John Beilein's squad when they slowed the game down and weren't able to dictate the style of play.
Tonight's ability to adjust for Michigan will be key. Nik Stauskas is the Big Ten Player of the Year and he's tossed in 15 points against Wofford and 17 in the team's last win over Texas. But the emergence of Jordan Morgan, who was pretty solid during the regular season, has been huge for Michigan. The Wolverines lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. from last year's squad and lost playmaker Mitch McGary early in the season to back surgery. Yet, Beilein's team rallied around itself and has made it to the Sweet 16. You need a solid big man in March and Morgan has provided that for the Wolverines, giving 10 points and 15 boards against Wofford and adding 15 points and 10 boards in the win over Texas.
The Wolverines don't turn the ball over, so if they are knocking down shots they are tough to beat. Texas made a couple of runs at the Wolverines in the second half but Michigan was able to stifle the run by making shots consistently and not allowing the Longhorns to have added possessions.
In tonight's game, Michigan is going to have to play a half-court style. Tennessee is going to slow the game down and will use their bigs to try and control the contest. Jarnell Stokes has averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds per game so far in the tournament as the Volunteers had won games by 13, 19 and 20 points. Jordan McRae and Jeronne Maymon will also provide some matchup problems for Michigan as well. Josh Richardson is playing at a very high level as well, which is allowing the Volunteers offense to run effectively.
Michigan is a very strong offensive team with Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III (13.1) and Caris LeVert (13.1) averaging in double digits. Beilein's team finished second in the Big Ten in shooting at nearly 48 percent, averaged 74 points per game and wants to play up-tempo. Tennessee has allowed opponents to average just over 61 points per game, opponents shoot just 41 percent and they've held 11 straight teams under 70 points with five of those squads not reaching the 50-point plateau.
Defensively, if Tennessee can hold Michigan in the 50s the Volunteeers have a great shot. But if Michigan can get good looks, run the floor well and be effective with multiple guys getting involved offensively they'll win tonight.
Free Pick: Michigan 67, Tennessee 62
College Basketball Free Picks: Tennessee vs Michigan Betting
What college Basketball bettors need to know about Tennessee Volunteers vs Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday (3/28/14) - a free pick from Pregame.com's Marco D'Angelo with Ken Thomson and Bryan Leonard.
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