I keep coming back to the over in the Michigan – Iowa game. I know it sounds crazy, but I see some interesting things that I like.
I know that Michigan ranks number 1 in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pom. But, I think Iowa will still be able to score tonight, as they have been able to score against some tough defenses this season.
In their Big 10 home games so far, Iowa scored 67 (MSU), 95 (Ill), 72 (OSU), 93 (NEB), and 66 (Wisco) points. They put up 98 on Iowa St and 69 on Pitt at home as well. Five of the aforementioned six teams rank in the top 40 in defensive efficiency.
Even against very good defenses AWAY from home, Iowa has been able to put up points – 68 @ MSU, 73 @ NW, 77 vs Oregon (neut), 89 @ PSU. Each of those four teams rank in the top 50 in defensive efficiency.
Iowa has four players that can hit the outside shot at a high percentage. Moss, Wieskamp, Bohannon, and Baer all have attempted over 60 three-pointers on the season and all shoot above 37%. Even their center, 6’11” Luka Garza, can step out and shoot the three, as he has connected on 34% of his 44 attempts from deep. That group of five guys is the second most used lineup for Iowa over the last 5 games. Whenever starting forward Tyler Cook is on the bench, I expect Coach Fran McCaffrey to utilize this lineup of five shooters to ensure that the offense can apply pressure to and stretch the Wolverine defense.
But what about the Michigan offense?
The Wolverines obviously play slow. But I think the opening total is indicative of the expectation for points in this game. Money is obviously coming in on the under, but Michigan CAN put up points. They have done it a few times this year.
Iowa is one of the 50 fastest teams in the country on offense. They rank 47th in average offensive possession length, averaging 16.1 seconds per possession. It is a small sample size, but Michigan has played against two other teams that rank in the top 50 in AOPL, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Wolverines scored 84 and 89 points respectively in those games. Further, UNC and USC were two of the three highest scoring teams against the Wolverines this season. UNC put up 67 points while USC put up 78 points. The only other team to surpass 67 points against Michigan this season is Illinois, who put up 69 points. They are the fifth fastest team Michigan has played so far this season. Pace is the key to scoring against the Wolverine defense.
I expect Iowa to understand that their only chance to win this game is to put up points, as they are not a “grind it out” type defense and will most likely have trouble with Brazdeikis and Teske in the paint. I expect them to increase the pace of this game to a tempo that Michigan doesn’t usually play at. Not that they can’t, just that they don’t.
The over hit in 7 out of the last 10 meetings between these teams, with each team averaging over 70 points per game in those contests.
While the Wolverine defense has not always been THIS good, it has consistently ranked in the top 100 in Ken Pom’s adjusted defensive efficiency since Coach Beilein’s second season in Ann Arbor. Further, Michigan has consistently ranked as one of the 50-75 slowest teams in the nation on offense as well. Meanwhile, under Fran McCaffery, the Hawkeyes have consistently ranked in the top 50 in average offensive possession length. The point is, these teams have maintained the same identity for about a decade. So, I do take previous results into account in this match-up more than I would in other match-ups. Take a look at the results of the games between these two teams in Iowa City over the last five years:
2018 – 75-68 Michigan
2017 – 86-83 Iowa (OT)
2016 – 82-71 Iowa
2015 – No Game in Iowa City
2014 – 85-67 Iowa
You can see that points have been “easy” to come by in this match-up when it is played in Iowa City.
Ultimately, I think the pace of this game is going to be friendly for those that bet the over. I think we see the Hawkeyes come out and hit some quick threes early to put some pressure on the Wolverines to score, much like Penn State did last night against Purdue. Iowa and Michigan both rank in the top 30 in offensive efficiency according to Ken Pom, so they are plenty capable of scoring.
Look for the Hawkeyes to feed off the crowd on a Friday night on national TV. Unlike most plays on Big Ten totals, I am on the over in this one tonight.
The Pick: Michigan @ Iowa Over 141
20-7 L27 after Michigan allows less than 50 points in previous game
4-1 L5 Friday Games
5-1 L6 vs team with winning record
4-1 L5 after Iowa allows more than 90 points in previous game
15-7 L22 Friday Games
5-2 L7 as underdog
5-2-1 L8 vs team with winning record
Good Luck if you tail!