Michigan hadn’t won in Iowa City in each of their previous four tries, including the equal parts frustrating and seemingly unavoidable overtime loss in Michigan’s first game of 2017. However, on Tuesday night a lot of demons were chased as the Wolverine’s torched the Carver-Hawkeye Arena nets to the tune of 49% from the field and 11-25 shooting from deep as Michigan rolled Iowa 75-68. The Final score is less indicative of how dominant Michigan’s offense was, but the defense remains inconsistent at best as the maize and blue still have a glaring lack of a lengthy, on-ball defender to replace DJ Wilson, who hasn’t seen the floor in 5 games for the Bucks. Tyler Cook scored 28 points, all of which came inside against a turnstile of defenders. This may be a negative start to an article about Michigan winning a road Big Ten game, but truth be told Iowa is very average and Michigan was supposed to win this game. But Michigan can’t count on out-shooting every team they play. There is no Nik Stauskas nor Derrick Walton Jr. on this team yet. Right now MAAR is close, this was another Walton Jr. like game for Rahk, but I still need to see it when his teammates are non-factors. The biggest thing I’m pleased with right now, beside this headline, is that this might be the deepest team Michigan has had under Beilein. This is a true 9-man rotation that matches the depth of the Final Four team. Obviously, this team doesn’t have the same talent, but all 9 guys who are getting regular minutes right now can handle themselves. We all wanted Mo to be rewarded for returning for his junior year, but his struggles continued in this game and I’m less confident than ever that his stock is rising on NBA Draft boards thanks to an extra year of development in Ann Arbor. Overall, Michigan is in a good spot at the restart of conference play. They’re not as good as Michigan State, but the two best teams in the Big Ten (probably the worst year in Big Ten basketball since Beilein took over) could certainly be in the Mitten state. The loss in Columbus will continue to be painful, more so now because how the game played out, but as Ohio State keeps winning the less that becomes a bad loss. Michigan is a tournament team, they could be a second-weekend team again this year and that’s becoming the norm now for a program that went over a decade with an NIT title being the only banner worthy achievement.
I’m not good at picking games. Every one I post here I tend to either not bet myself or go the opposite. But Dalton insists I keep giving my picks. Tread lightly.
Outback Bowl: I’ll take Michigan – 7 1/2 because I can’t stomach us losing another game. Did you see what Michigan State did and what Ohio State is doing as I write this to USC (up 17-0 as of this post). Michigan has to win and cover, because South Carolina isn’t good.
Peach Bowl: My heart says UCF +10, but Auburn is a much better team and ultimately I don’t buy the notion that Scott Frost is still all in with the Knights after taking the Nebraska gig.
Citrus Bowl: I’m somewhat surprised that LSU is favored by 3, but neither team cares that much to be in this game. Coach O makes you care, give me the Tigers. https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2017/11/26/16701242/lsu-band-neck-odell-beckham-jr
Rose Bowl: Everyone in their lifetime should go to the Rose Bowl. It is truly heaven on earth and every cliché you’ve heard about this game is true. Also, it’s very close to Santa Anita which is my home race track for horse betting. Georgia is awesome and their coach is the next Saban. Baker is fun, but Georgia’s defense plays with a controlled violence that makes football beautiful. I’d take Georgia minus anything, 2 points is no sweat.
Sugar Bowl: Winner of this game claims the title of best coach currently in college football. I think its Dabo, even though I’ll always think Clemson is a fraud. Give me Bama -3.
Mo Bamba should’ve gone to Michigan. No school could’ve offered him as high-quality a single year education as the one available to him in Ann Arbor. Also, the Wolverines basketball team is better than Texas. That’s not an opinion anymore following UM’s 59-52 victory in Austin. The Wolverines led by as many as 14 in the second half as John Beilein continued his long history of out coaching Shaka Smart in games Michigan is inexplicably expected to lose. Note Jay Bilas (a lawyer in the same way I was a college basketball player) had VCU going to the Final Four in 2013, UM knocked them out in the second round 78-53.
Michigan’s offense was good enough to win this game despite shooting 6-19 from deep, but it was on the defensive end of the floor where the Maize and Blue shined. The Wolverines limited the Longhorns to 37% shooting from the field while outrebounding their hosts 40-31. Most impressively, former future Wolverine Mo Bamba was limited to just 10 points on 4-10 shooting in 35 minutes, while recording 10 boards only one of which came on the offensive end of the floor.
My only complaint, because I wouldn’t be a Michigan fan if I only complained after losses, is that Isaiah Livers didn’t look great offensively in a season-high 22 minutes. Everyone has been wanting to see him get more run and he fit in this game well because of what he can do defensively in place of Duncan Robinson, but you expect the offensive game to improve the longer he plays for Beilein.
Speaking of Beilein, never doubt Michigan’s man in charge. Will Michigan ever win a national title under their current head coach? No. Should fans expect the program to compete for Big Ten titles and Final Fours? Yes, and they do. He’s the perfect fit for the University and next year’s recruiting class coupled with the current roster after departures will put Michigan amongst the preseason favorites in the conference next season.
For now, just enjoy the ride. This team picked up two huge wins this week to give them a small margin for error in what might be the thinnest power five conference in the country. Failure to reach the big dance would be a disappointment at this point, but I’m also not ready to pencil this team in the field of 68. They’ve done enough in the non-conference to feel good heading into part 2 of conference play, but I don’t hate the fact that Michigan will likely be playing very important games in The Mecca that could decide their postseason fate.
Basketball is not my favorite sport. I like football the most, but I don’t care about any of that right now. I committed to writing about Michigan basketball this afternoon and was looking forward to doing so after the 1st half of tonight’s game. Michigan will be fine and John Beilein is an exceptional coach. Teams have bad games and bad halves. It sucks that this loss came in Columbus, but that’s more coincidental than a reflection of Ohio State being better than Michigan. Zavier Simpson should play a lot less, but that’s about my only complaint. This could end up being a bad loss on the résumé, but I don’t expect Michigan to end up being a bubble team. Wins against UCLA and Texas could all but lock up an at-large berth for Michigan if they can go .500 in conference play. I’m just writing a bunch of stuff now, that’s all about Michigan basketball, but doesn’t have much to do with tonight, so I’m going to wrap this up. Cheer up and watch some Rick and Morty which is a show I still don’t really get, but it’s cool to watch it so I’ll power through.
P.S. This fan is a fucking loser. Imagine having a degree from a University where this guy can afford a courtside seat. He’s the face of Ohio State University. I feel better knowing that. It’s a Monday night in December and this guy is still so desperate to forget that he lost custody of his kids during the divorce settlement years ago. Sad.
I don’t want to be writing this guide for you this week. Michigan just lost to Ohio State and looked competitive enough to give me hope. However, I owe you, the reader, my weekly picks as I look to rebound off a 2-5-1 week. That’s unacceptable and you deserve better. This week I’m only giving you locks and not messing around with unders or basic research. This is a gut week and week 12 is gut-check time.
Just the picks: Falcons -9 1/2, Browns +8 1/2, Titans -3 1/2, Saints +2 1/2, Seahawks -6 1/2, Jaguars -4 1/2, Steelers (-14)
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-9 1/2) – 1 PM
Tampa Bay is garbage and the Falcons seem to be turning their season around after a slow start.
Cleveland (+8 1/2) at Cincinnati – 1 PM
I don’t buy the Cincinnati resurgence, plus the Browns have kept most of their losses close.
Tennessee (-3 1/2) at Indianapolis – 1 PM
It’s been a bad year for both of these teams, but each team has had double-digit days to prepare so I’ll take the team with more talent on paper.
New Orleans (+2 1/2) at Los Angeles Rams – 4:05 PM
The Saints and Rams are both much improved from last season, but I won’t bet against Drew Brees and still can’t convince myself Jared Goff is good.
Seattle (-6 1/2) at San Francisco – 4:05 PM
I know Seattle is banged up, but the NFC is bad enough that the Seahawks should still cruise to a wildcard berth. The 49ers meanwhile have already exceeded expectations by winning a game this season.
LOCK: Jacksonville (-4 1/2) @ Arizona – 4:25 PM
Jacksonville is good and unless Arizona’s secondary can take back two Blake Bortles interceptions for touchdowns, I can’t see Blaine Gabert keeping it close in an all-time sad revenge game storyline. People forget that Gabbert left a year early from Mizzou and the Jags drafted him in the first round.
DOUBLE LOCK: Green Bay @ Pittsburgh (-14) – 8:30 PM
Green Bay is so bad. They can’t score at all and Pittsburgh’s defense is back. This should get ugly in prime time.
I’m Leo and I’m one of Dalton’s friends. Enough of the small talk, I’ve been asked to make the reader’s of this confusingly named website money, so without further ado (no clue how to spell that word) here are my picks for this week’s NFL slate. I’ll only include the games I’ll be playing myself.
Guide for those who don’t read: Baltimore @ Green Bay – Over 38, Detroit -3, Kansas City -10 1/2, Arizona +2, Tampa Bay @ Miami – Under 41 1/2, Rams + 2 1/2, New England -7 1/2, Philadelphia -5 1/2
Baltimore @ Green Bay – 1 PM
Baltimore is favored at Lambeau which is a difficult sentence to comprehend as I write it. I don’t trust Brett Hundley enough to back the Pack (I apologize), but I do trust him enough to take the Over 38.
Detroit (-3) @ Chicago – 1 PM
This line opened at -3 and has stayed put throughout the week. This is a typical game for the Lions to lose, but Chicago is especially bad this year. Their passing defense is 9th worst in the league and the only chance the Bears have to cover is if they can score on defense or special teams. I’ll take my chances with Matthew Stafford and a receiving core that now features a tight end who can occasionally catch the ball. Under 44 was tempting, but that’s dropped to 41 so steer clear.
Kansas City (-10 1/2) @ NY Giants – 1 PM
Picking against a double-digit home underdog is a horrible feeling, but this line opened at 13 1/2 and was bet down to the 10 1/2. The Giants are bad and they’ve quit on their coach. Andy Reid is coming off a bye and the Giants fans are more ready to turn on their own team than to make things difficult for the Chiefs. Stay away from this over/under because it’s going to be a blowout and may not have much scoring late.
Arizona (+2) @ Houston – 1 PM
Full Disclosure: I’m a Cardinals fan. I can’t live in a world where my favorite NFL team loses to Tom Savage. The Cardinals opened at 1 1/2 point favorites and were bet down to 2 point dogs which makes me nervous that Vegas knows something. This opened at an O/U of 45 1/2, but sanity has prevailed and with Blaine Gabbert making his debut for the Cardinals I’ll take the points, but won’t touch the current O/U of 37 1/2. Gabbert can’t be worse than Stanton and I’ll take any team over Tom Savage giving points.
Tampa Bay @ Miami – 1 PM
Full disclosure I won’t be betting this game. Jameis is out and its impossible to pick between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jay Cutler. My heart says Dolphins, but my gut says Tampa. This game will be ugly and I’m taking the Under 41 1/2.
STAY AWAY: LA Rams (+2 1/2) @ Minnesota – 1 PM
Two evenly matched teams that are both 6-3 against the spread. I’ll bet on the Rams, but you shouldn’t unless you also gamble just to feel alive.
New England (-7 1/2) @ Oakland – 4:25 PM
The Raiders aren’t very good. The Patriots are always good (another evergreen sentence). You can always make money betting on the Patriots (3-1 ATS on the road this year). I’ll lock things up and invest in New England to cruise past a Raiders team that was supposed to be good for going on three straight seasons.
LOCK: Philadelphia (-5 1/2) @ Dallas – 8:30 PM
This line has seen a lot of movement but has leveled off at 5 1/2. I’ll take the Eagles on the road with Dallas being secretly garbage and Zeke out. Also, give me the over 48 with an Eagles offense that might be the best in the league against a Dallas defense without Sean Lee (which is an evergreen sentence). Also, the Eagles are quietly 7-2 against the spread.