#9 Tennessee vs. #8 Michigan- March Madness Pick
The ninth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers (19-14) and eighth-seeded Michigan Wolverines (20-13) were both on the bubble for the NCAA tournament going into their respective conference tournament, and each did just enough to get at-large invitations to the Big Dance. The Volunteers (-1.5) and Wolverines will meet on Friday in arguably the most intriguing second-round matchup of the West Region at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena.
Tennessee’s biggest achievements came early this season in beating Big East foes Villanova 78-68 and Pittsburgh 83-76. The Volunteers also topped VCU 77-72 and Belmont 85-76 in the first two weeks en route to an impressive 7-0 start. However, an 89-82 home loss to Oakland – another NCAA tournament team – started a three-game losing streak both straight-up and against the spread.
The Vols went 3-3 in their next six games following the skid, going 1-4 ATS. They ended up with an 8-8 mark in Southeastern Conference play and fifth seed in the East Division, which usually would not be enough to impress the selection committee. But a tough non-conference schedule definitely helped them get in.
A loss to West #4 Arkansas in the SEC tournament could have also proved costly for Tennessee, although a 74-68 victory against the Razorbacks erased most doubts. Even a third loss to East #1 Florida (85-74) in the quarterfinals could not keep the Volunteers out of the Big Dance.
Michigan faced similar scrutiny heading into the Big Ten Conference tournament but took care of enough business to state its case. The Wolverines were the fourth seed in the conference tourney and rallied back for a 60-55 win over #5 Illinois in the quarterfinals. They trailed the Illini 34-23 at halftime and had to come back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to pull off the victory. The team ended up losing to top seed Ohio State 68-61 in the semifinals but still managed to cover the spread for the seventh straight game.
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This matchup will feature a contrast in styles, as Tennessee likes to push the ball while Michigan would rather slow it down and play more of a half-court game. The OVER is 6-2 in the last eight games overall for the Volunteers, who have also seen the OVER cash in each of their last eight neutral site games. Despite allowing just 62.6 points per game, the Wolverines have seen the OVER go 11-5-1 in their last 17 games overall.