The Michigan Wolverines are a No. 2 seed for this NCAA tournament, while the Tennessee Volunteers are a No. 11 seed.
But Michigan is favored by only a basket for its Midwest Region Sweet 16 bout with Tennessee on Friday night in Indianapolis. Apparently, the oddsmakers don't believe the seedings mean much at this point in the tournament, and they're probably right.
This pairing happens very rarely. When it does, No. 2 seeds take care of business. They are 5-0 straight up and 4-1 against the number versus No. 11 seeds since 2002, according to Odds Shark’s college basketball database.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Wolverines opened as two-point favorites, but the line was a full point higher Wednesday at one shop monitored by Odds Shark. The total was also climbing from 131. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Tennessee to cover the spread
After missing the NCAA tournament the last two seasons, the Vols made it back by going 11-7 to finish in fourth place in the SEC this year. But that was only good for a No. 11 seed.
Coach Cuonzo Martin's crew then opened the Big Dance by beating Iowa in a play-in game. It then knocked off No. 6 UMass and methodically dispatched Mercer. So the Vols have won eight of their last nine games straight up, the only loss in that span coming to top-ranked Florida in the SEC tournament.
They have covered the spread in seven of their last nine. Tennessee has been tough on the defensive end of the court all season, holding opponents to 61 points per games. Lately, it has upped its play on the offensive end, shooting 54 percent and 49 percent from the floor, respectively, in its last two games.
Why pick Michigan to cover the spread
In their quest for a return trip to the Final Four, the Big Ten's regular-season champions opened this tournament by covering as 15-point favorites against Wofford. They then covered as five-point chalk against Texas.
The Wolverines have won nine of their last 10 games overall, their only loss coming to in-state rival and fellow Sweet 16 qualifier Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament title game. Michigan is also riding a 7-1 against-the-spread streak in its last eight NCAA tournament games.
The Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country at throwing the ball in the hole, shooting 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point land. They have played solid defense in this tournament, holding the Terriers and Longhorns to a combined 36 percent field-goal shooting.
Smart betting pick
Going back to 2002, No. 2 seeds are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS against No. 11 seeds in NCAA tournaments. A spread of just two points makes Michigan all that more tempting.
Tennessee has had a very nice run, but that run is destined to come to an end Friday night. Ignore the computer and take the Wolverines.
Tennessee Volunteers: No. 15
Michigan Wolverines: No. 49 (per Odds Shark power rankings)
Sweet 16 betting trends
- No. 2 seeds are 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS against No. 11 seeds since 2002.
- Michigan 9-1 SU past 10 games.
- Tennessee is 7-1 ATS past eight games overall.
- Under is 10-2 past 12 games when Vols are underdogs.
- Michigan is 7-1 ATS past eight tournament games.