The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines take on the No. 1 Lousiville Cardinals on Tuesday night. This game is one of 14 ACC/Big Ten Challenge games. Though this is the first time that Louisville and Michigan have met as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, they have met four times in their schools’ history. Two of these four meetings came in the NCAA tournament, most notably with Louisville winning 82-76 in the 2013 National Championship.
- Opening Lines: Louisville -6.5 (at BetOnline.ag)
- Current Line: Louisville -5.5
- O/U: 140
- Location: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
- Start Time: 7:30 ET
- Last Meeting: March 19, 2017 — Michigan def. Louisville 73-69
The Michigan Wolverines had the most successful week of any college basketball team last week, and it is not even close. Michigan won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament last week, besting a field that included North Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon, and Seton Hall. The Wolverines, quite frankly, did not get challenged in the event, beating Iowa State by seven, North Carolina by nine (Michigan led by as many as 24), and Gonzaga by 18. Their dominant week saw them go from unranked to No. 4 in the AP Poll. This ties the 1989-1990 Kansas Jayhawks for highest-ranked debut in an AP Poll. Including the Battle 4 Atlantis, Michigan is 7-0 on the season. Their game at Louisville will be their first true road game of the season.
Michigan is a hard team to guard, as they currently have four players averaging double figures. Throughout the entire Battle 4 Atlantis and all season long, it seems that a different guy steps up for the Wolverines each night. Isaiah Livers is their leading scorer averaging 17.0 PPG. He is a matchup nightmare, as he is a much-improved shooter, and he also possesses the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive a bigger defender. In addition to Livers, Michigan has three players (Jon Teske, Eli Brooks, Zavier Simpson) that played in the National Championship game against Villanova two years ago. They are battle-tested and have not needed much of an adjustment period to first-year coach Juwan Howard’s style of play.
Louisville is different than Michigan in that they came into the season with high expectations. They were ranked fifth in the initial AP Poll and were picked to finish second in the Preseason ACC Media Poll. The Cardinals are the fourth different team in the first five weeks to be ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll. They have started 7-0, but they have not yet been tested. Their only game decided by single digits was an 82-76 win over Akron.
The Cardinals are led by National Player of the Year candidate Jordan Nwora. Nwora is averaging 21.9 PPG while scoring 21 or more points in five of the team’s first seven games. He has been lights out from deep, shooting 50% from three to go with a 90% free throw percentage. Three other Cardinals (Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, and Steven Enoch) are averaging in double figures. Louisville ranks 27th in the country with 81.7 PPG, and are sixth in the country with a 51.9% field goal percentage.
- Michigan is 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
- Michigan is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games against the ACC.
- Michigan is 40-17-2 in their last 59 games versus a team with a winning record.
- Michigan is 20-9 ATS in their last 29 road games.
- Louisville is 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games versus the Big Ten.
- Louisville is 1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning percentage above .600.
- Louisville is 1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record.
- Under is 23-9 in the Wolverines’ last 32 games against a team with a winning percentage above .600.
- Over is 5-2 in the Wolverines’ last seven road games.
- Under is 5-2-1 in the Cardinals’ last eight games vs. the Big Ten.
- Under is 9-4 in the Cardinals’ last 13 home games.
The Isaiah Livers vs. Jordan Nwora matchup alone will be worth the price of admission. Both players are some of the best three-point shooters in the country, each shooting better than 50% from deep. They are each extremely versatile offensive players who move well without the ball. Louisville coach Chris Mack was always going to be able to count on Nwora as his go-to-guy, but now Juwan Howard knows that he has one of his own in Livers.
Michigan has easily been the most impressive team in the country thus far, as no one can match the caliber of wins they have already accrued. They are experienced, connected, battle-tested, and playing freely and unselfishly under Juwan Howard. However, there is one reason that I believe they are at a serious disadvantage heading into this game: the schedule. Michigan had to play three games in three days last week (Wednesday to Friday), and they logged a lot of miles traveling to and from the Bahamas. Louisville, meanwhile, has not left the state of Kentucky since the first game of the season. Their games have been spaced out, and they should be plenty rested for this matchup.
If a No. 1 ranked team can be overlooked heading into this matchup, Louisville might just be it. That is because Michigan has taken the college basketball world by storm, while Louisville has yet to be tested. However, Louisville is deep and talented and will come after Michigan in waves. They return six of their top seven scorers from a year ago, and they even added grad transfer Lamarr Kimble, who provides depth in the backcourt. The KFC Yum! Center crowd will be rocking, and they will make the difference in Michigan’s first true road game of the season. While the majority of bettors will be on Michigan after their hot start, I will happily fade the public with the home favorite.