A crucial Big Ten matchup goes down Thursday in Evanston in the Michigan at Northwestern betting matchup. The Wolverines (11-10) need to start stacking some wins together if they want any chance of making the NCAA Tournament while the Wildcats (15-6) need a higher profile victory to continue confirming that their surprising turnaround is for real.
Northwestern is 6-4 in the conference and is jockeying with 7-4 Illinois and Rutgers for seeding ahead of the Big Ten tournament. Everybody in the conference is looking up at 11-1 Purdue (the #1 team in the country) including 5-5 Michigan. The Wildcats are -4.5 favorites in this spot, with 57% of the betting public taking the Wolverines.
Why Michigan Can Cover +4.5 Points
The Wolverines have lost five of their last seven games, but one of the wins over that span was an 85-78 victory over Northwestern in Ann Arbor as a -4.5 favorite. Three Michigan players had at least 16 points in that game with Hunter Dickinson also adding 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Michigan is just 11-10 on the season which is disappointing after going to the Sweet 16 last season, but it’s important to remember they’re just a game back in the conference from Northwestern. UM has played a difficult schedule that includes losses to Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Purdue.
Michigan is just 1-4 on the road while Northwestern is 10-3 in Evanston, but the Wildcats are not invincible on their own court as evidenced by a 73-57 loss to Ohio State and an 87-58 defeat to Pittsburgh this season. The Wildcats’ other home loss was 65-62 to Rutgers, and they also just got routed 86-70 on Tuesday at Iowa.
Why Northwestern Can Cover -4.5 Points
The Wildcats have suffered a couple big double digit losses as part of their 10-3 home record, but they’ve also beaten a good Illinois team 73-60 as +3.5 underdogs. The head to head trends also favor Northwestern here, as the home team is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 between these two teams with the favorite going 4-1 ATS the last five.
Northwestern isn’t a great scoring team in general, but they do have ceiling potential behind what many people believe is the best back court in the Big Ten with Boo Buie and Chase Audige both scoring over 15 ppg. Buie has gone for 20+ in four of the last five while Audige had 24 over the weekend in a win over Minnesota.
What will really get the Wildcats to cover the -4.5 on Thursday is their defense, which ranks third in the Big Ten and 24th in the country allowing just 62.2 ppg. Giving up 86 points on Tuesday in Iowa City isn’t ideal, but the Hawkeyes are also the top scoring team in the conference (81.5) and Northwestern had held opponents to 65 or less in four of the previous five.
Free Michigan at Northwestern Betting Pick
The Wolverines dominated Northwestern in the first meeting this season and have won six straight in the series while covering the number in four of those. The Wildcats have had a very surprising season, but the onus is still on them to prove they can just beat Michigan, let alone cover a -4.5 number.
Free Pick: Michigan +4.5