The Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team hasn’t inspired much confidence through six games. It has a close win over Eastern Michigan, an overtime win over Ohio, and a blowout loss to Arizona State.
The Wolverines had better raise their play Tuesday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge if they want to come out with a win. Michigan hosts No. 3 Virginia on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Virginia already has neutral-site wins over Baylor and Illinois, and the Cavaliers look the part of a national title contender. The game is Michigan’s toughest test to date by a substantial margin.
Virginia favored by a few points
Hunter Dickinson and the Wolverines are 4.5-point underdogs at multiple sportsbooks, including Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, and FanDuel. The Wolverines are only 3.5-point underdogs at BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, and PointsBet.
The Michigan moneyline is around +165 at most sportsbooks, with Caesars Sportsbook going as high as +170. The total is 129.5 at Barstool Sportsbook, while BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and FanDuel list the total at 130.5. BetRivers and PointsBet list it at 128.5.
If Michigan wins the game, the victory will likely stem from a strong performance by Dickinson down low. Michigan may have a slight advantage with Dickinson in the post, as Virginia is loaded at guard and along the wing. Kadin Shedrick has performed exceptionally well in the post for the Cavaliers, but Dickinson’s scoring ability presents a different test than most big men. Is Shedrick ready for the step up in competition? Can he avoid foul trouble defensively?
Tony Bennett’s team always seems to play well defensively, but this year’s group might actually be better offensively. KenPom has Virginia as the fifth-most efficient offense in the country, and the 14th-most efficient defense in the country. Five Virginia players with at least five made 3-pointers are shooting over 40% from beyond the 3-point line.
Michigan has only allowed opponents to shoot 30.9% from 3-point range this season, a respectable mark in the early going. Arizona State, however, shot 57.9% from beyond the arc in its blowout of the Wolverines. Michigan needs to slow down UVA’s shooters, including former Indiana guard Armaan Franklin, who leads Virginia with 11 made 3-pointers.
ACC-Big Ten Challenge swan song
Enjoy this year’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Michigan fans. It’ll be the last one.
ESPN announced Monday that it’s replacing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge with an ACC-SEC challenge. Both the ACC and SEC are TV partners with ESPN, while the Big Ten recently signed a media deal with CBS, FOX, and NBC.
Other notable games in this year’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge include Wednesday games between Ohio State and Duke and North Carolina and Indiana.
Photo: Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY