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No. 5 Michigan becoming a reliable bet ATS

Michigan vs Northwestern Betting Odds

The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines head out on the road for a Big Ten battle, tipping off against the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The two schools split their two-game season series last year with Northwestern winning its home game 61-52. However, it is Michigan that is a 7-point favorite for tonight’s contest with the total opening at 128 points.

Shark Bites
  • Michigan is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five games with two days off between games.
  • The total has gone OVER in three of Michigan’s last four games on the road vs Northwestern.
  • Northwestern is 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five games with two days off between games.

Michigan vs Northwestern Game Center

The Wolverines’ defense is stifling foes

Michigan has jumped out to an 8-0 start to the season for the first time since 2012 when it began the season with 16 straight wins. It was during that span that the Wolverines last won a game at Welsh-Ryan Arena. They are coming off back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, topping then-No. 11 UNC 84-67 last Wednesday and following that up with a 76-57 triumph over then-No. 19 Purdue on Saturday. Seeing the low scores put up by UNC and Purdue gives you a glimpse at how Michigan’s defense has been punishing its opponents. Overall this season the team is surrendering just 51.8 points per game, which is the second-best mark in the nation.

The Wolverines play a tenacious defense, contesting nearly every shot, and are limiting their opponents to just a 34.2 shooting percentage, the second-lowest in college basketball. Most impressively, they are holding their opponents to a measly 35.9 shooting percentage inside the arc, but if there is any weakness in their defense it would be stopping shots from long distance. That being said, this “weakness” allows opponents to hit 30.3 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, which is the 80th-lowest in the nation – still pretty darn good. Offensively, the Wolverines hit 46.5 percent of their shots, which is the 86th-best percentage in the NCAA, but they take only 55.9 shots per game, which is the 90th-fewest.

Wildcats are looking to avoid their first losing streak of the season

Northwestern is coming off a narrow 68-66 defeat to Indiana on Saturday and has yet to drop two games in a row this season. The Wildcats have had two three-game winning streaks thus far, but have yet to face a ranked opponent – until now. They are scoring 73.6 points per game, which is the 162nd-most in the NCAA, and are led by senior forward Vic Law, who is averaging 17.6 points per game. Northwestern looks to get the ball into the key, aiming to draw a foul or look for an easy layup as 23.6 percent of its points come from the charity stripe, which is the 43rd-highest rate in the league, while only getting 47.9 percent of their points from two-point range, which is the 129th-lowest in the nation.

Defensively, the Wildcats allow just 61.9 points per game, which is the 24th-best mark in the NCAA, and they allow the eighth-fewest shots against per game at 50.2. Teams are shooting 48.3 percent from two-point range vs the Wildcats, which is the 112th-lowest percentage in college basketball. Additionally, they do a good job at securing boards, limiting their opponents to just 20.2 defensive rebounds per game, while grabbing 10.4 offensive boards per game themselves to rank 65th in the country.

Should you be on the OVER tonight?

Both teams put an emphasis on defense first and Bovada has the total opening at 128 points. Michigan has gone UNDER 128 points in half of its games this year, while Northwestern has gone UNDER 128 points in just one game this season. In addition, the total has gone OVER in three of the last four meetings between these two schools at Welsh-Ryan Arena with an average combined score of 141.25. Although both teams are very stout defensively and rank outside the top 150 in points per game, the Wolverines have racked up 75 or more points in four of their last five games, which leaves little wiggle room for the UNDER, and I think the OVER will come through tonight.

My take on Michigan vs Northwestern

I like Michigan to cover the 7-point spread. The Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last six games – in the only game in which they didn’t cover, the spread was 32 points and they won by 28. The Wildcats are off to a good start to the season but have yet to face a ranked team and I think they are going to have a hard time scoring against this Michigan team that has held UNC, Villanova and Purdue down offensively. Lastly, Northwestern relies on two-pointers and getting to the free-throw line for its offensive output and Michigan allows the second-fewest free throws per game and gives up the 25th-fewest points from inside the arc.