Take Michigan (#721)
To call John Beilein an elite level tournament coach is something of an understatement. Prior to the Wolverines 'bad beat' spread loss to Oklahoma State on a buzzer beater three pointer on Friday, Beilein was 19-7 ATS in the Big Dance, including an 11-5 ATS mark at Michigan. And that's not even counting Michigan's success in the Big 10 tourney (4-0 SU and ATS this year, 10-4 SU & 9-5 ATS since 2013). I want our money ON John Beilein in short turnaround tournament settings, plain and simple.
Rick Pitino has 'elite level coach' plastered all over him by the national media. Pitino in the postseason' He's 0-2 ATS this year and just 3-5 ATS in the Big Dance since Louisville cut down the nets against Michigan in the 2013 national title game. That Louisville team was loaded with NBA talent. This year's team is not ' Michigan arguably has the more talented roster here.
Louisville does two things very well. They dominate the glass, winning the rebounding battle by margin on a consistent basis. And their pressure defense forces turnovers in bunches, leading to easy fast break buckets.
Louisville is likely to win the battle of the boards here ' rebounding is not an area of strength for this Michigan squad. But the Wolverines just beat Oklahoma State despite a -18 mark on the boards. They beat Wisconsin despite a -6 and beat Minnesota despite a -16. And that's just in their last three games! Michigan has been overcoming negative rebounding differentials all year; not a deal breaker when they face a strong rebounding opponent.
The Wolverines certainly have the type of guard play I'm looking for when it comes to overcoming the Louisville defensive pressure. Michigan turns the ball over less than nine times per game, with Derrick Walton Jr and Zak Irvin both making excellent decisions with the basketball; an elite guard duo. I've yet to see a team all year rattle those veteran guards.
When Louisville gets forced into a halfcourt game -- without generating easy transition buckets ' they have struggled repeatedly this season. The Cardinals are not a great offensive team, by any stretch of the imagination. They don't hit free throws ' another Michigan area of strength ' and their own ball handling is a long way from being elite. Look for Michigan's remarkable run to last for at least one more game'at least from a pointspread perspective! Take Michigan.