Michigan Wolverines vs. UCF Knights
Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Addition Financial Arena
This isn’t quite what people expected from the Michigan Wolverines. After starting the 2021-22 Division I season at No. 6 on the AP poll, the Wolverines (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS) are completely out of the Top 25 at press time. Losing to Seton Hall (+8 away) and Minnesota (+13.5 away) has really taken Michigan’s profile down a peg or two.
Here’s the thing: The Wolverines aren’t playing all that poorly. They’re No. 16 overall (No. 21 offense, No. 21 defense) on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts as we go to press, and if we’re reading the numbers right, they belong in your college basketball picks for Thursday’s matchup with the UCF Knights (8-2 SU, 4-6 ATS), who are priced as 3.5-point home dogs on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)
Houstan, We Have a Problem
To be fair, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard does have a lot of rebuilding to do. His program lost eight players from last year’s Elite Eight squad, including two high-quality starters in Franz Wagner (now with the Orlando Magic) and Isaiah Livers (Detroit Pistons), plus a solid bench player in Chaundee Brown (Atlanta Hawks).
This is Michigan, though. They had this year’s top-ranked recruiting class at Rivals.com and 247Sports, led by a pair of immaculate power forwards: Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabaté. Houstan (plus-3.2 BPM at Basketball Reference) has been a little slow out of the gate, but Diabaté (plus-5.4 BPM) has worked himself into the starting rotation, and spark-plug guard DeVante' Jones (plus-4.7 BPM) has done the same since transferring from Coastal Carolina. All is well in Ann Arbor.
Knights of Orlando
Central Florida, meanwhile, have taken a small step forward under sixth-year head coach Johnny Dawkins, although they’re still not as good as the team that won their first-ever game at the Big Dance three years ago. The Knights rank No. 53 overall (No. 55 offense, No. 68 defense) on the Pomeroy charts, 8.3 points per 100 possessions worse than Michigan.
We can expect these two teams to get in around 67 possessions Thursday night, so that leaves us with a kayfabe spread of Michigan –5.5 to work with. The Wolverines opened at –4.5 with the top-rated books before slipping to –3.5 in early betting; there hasn’t been enough data yet to compile any consensus reports as I write this, but the sharps appear to be on UCF here, which should give us pause.
Thankfully, it appears both teams will have their full rosters in Orlando after having to cancel their most recent games because of COVID-19. The Wolverines, idle since December 18th, have had the longer layoff – UCF last played on December 22nd.
Michigan’s “ring rust” may be playing a role in the early betting action, but we’re content to recommend the Maize and Blue for your NCAAB picks at a smaller bet size. The power of Pomeroy compels us.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.