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There is no better day of the week than Saturday for college basketball fans during January, February, and March; we get intense conference games again today!
The two matchups we will cover below include the Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan Wolverines and Connecticut Huskies versus Creighton Bluejays! Take a look below to see which teams we believe will cover the razor-sharp spreads that the sportsbooks have given us!
When: 6:00 PM EST
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It looks like the Indiana Hoosiers are catching fire at the perfect time of the season, even though they don’t quite have their starting point guard, Xavier Johnson, back in the lineup yet! Many believe Indiana could be an NCAA Tournament dark horse if it keeps playing at this level and can return Johnson in time.
The Hoosiers are winners of seven of their past eight games, with the only blemish being a road loss against the Maryland Terrapins, a team that ranks 24th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin. Essentially, it was not a bad loss by any stretch of the imagination.
The key to the Hoosiers’ incredible play has been All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, a truly unguardable player at the collegiate level. Jackson-Davis was forced to play through a back injury for the first half of the 2022-23 regular season, but since returning, he has been the best player in America.
In his past 11 games, Jackson-Davis has posted roughly 23 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. He’s been undeniably great in that stretch and even led the Hoosiers to a win against the No. 1 ranked Purdue Boilermakers.
What has turned TJD from a great player to an unstoppable force has been his significant strides as a playmaker. Indiana’s offense is heavily predicated on getting the ball in the post to Jackson-Davis and letting him decide whether to take his man one-on-one or pass out of the post to an open player. Opponents have still not figured out how to limit his impact.
Indiana ranks 18th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, 18th in eFG% (effective field goal percentage), and 16th in 3P% (three-point percentage.) Its offense has been significantly better than last season when it was purely one-dimensional (pound the ball into the post.)
The emergence of freshman sensation Jalen Hood-Schifino, a likely first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, has helped fill part of the void left by Johnson’s injury. Jalen’s maestro-like playmaking ability in the pick-and-roll has given this Hoosiers offense another dimension; they are challenging to prepare for.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Wolverines have had a mediocre season by their standards, boasting a 14-10 record. Michigan is outside KenPom’s top 50 in adjusted efficiency margin and struggles with consistency on the defensive end of the floor. Still, the Wolverines are somehow only one win away from second place in the Big Ten. Their current three-game win streak has kept them relevant.
Michigan is led by its All-American-caliber big man, Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 center averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per game, and lottery-bound freshman Jett Howard, the son of head coach Juwan Howard.
Howard is the Wolverines’ best three-point shooter and the only major threat from deep. Outside of him, Michigan is a below-average team from deep, which could be a problem against a high-octane Hoosiers offense.
Dickinson often has his way with opposing big men, helping the Wolverines get momentum on the offensive end. However, there are few better interior defenders than Jackson-Davis, who has averaged 3.4 blocks in his past 11 games.
This game has significant conference implications for the Hoosiers and Wolverines, who are both deadlocked at 8-5 in the ever-challenging Big Ten. Michigan has turned its season around after a late-December loss to Central Michigan at home, but can it beat a scalding Hoosiers team?
The Hoosiers should keep it a one-possession game by the final horn, as they are a better offensive team. Further, their defensive intensity in the past two games has been outstanding.
TJD should be able to use his athleticism and agility on offense to get around Hunter Dickinson and, potentially, get him in foul trouble. He has the lower and upper body strength to keep Dickinson from having a big game on the other end, too.
More than likely, Trey Galloway will be deployed on Howard, and while Howard will “get his,” he will have to work for it. Few players in the nation play with the intensity that Galloway does. I like taking Indiana with the points here.
When: 2:00 PM EST
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After a shaky start, partly due to the strength of their non-conference schedule, the Creighton Bluejays have turned their season back around. Even though they are only 16-8, they have talent and potential far better than their record shows.
Creighton has won seven-straight games since dropping back-to-back road games to Connecticut and Xavier, respectively. Now, the Bluejays rank ninth in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, with a top 25 offense and a top 15 defense; this team is elite on both ends of the floor!
Their starting five (Ryan Nembhard, Baylor Scheierman, Arthur Kaluma, Trey Alexander, and Ryan Kalkbrenner) is one of the best units in the nation. Actually, it might be. The problem that Creighton can run into is its bench depth, which is virtually nonexistent. The Bluejays only play one other player for more than ten minutes per game.
Still, the Bluejays’ starting lineup is so good and in such great physical shape that it often doesn’t matter. That has been even more evident recently.
Meanwhile, the Bluejays haven’t been the only team that has turned things around. After ranking as high as No. 2 in the AP Poll, UConn dropped several straight games in January to get off to a terrible start in its conference.
The Huskies have won four of their past five games; Xavier was the only team to beat them during that stretch. They have been destroying opponents, including No. 10 Marquette, who they beat by 15 points.
Connecticut’s offense is amongst the best in the nation due to its two-headed attack of Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo, who combine for roughly 34 points and 11 rebounds. You would have difficulty finding one or two better duos in all of college basketball than Hawkins and Sanogo.
The Huskies rank eighth in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency and have been shooting the lights out of the ball in their past three games. As a matter of fact, Connecticut has shot 44.4% from deep in that span.
It’s a little too late for Connecticut to fight for the Big East regular season title, but a win for the Bluejays would put them in a tie for first with Marquette and Xavier at 11-3! Both of these teams rank in the 20s in the AP Poll but are top ten in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, so we will surely see a hard-fought battle all game long.
Who knows? These two teams could face each other again deep in the tournament.
As far as this game goes, I’m rolling with the Creighton Bluejays. Creighton has won 11 of its 12 games at home, and its only loss was in early December against Nebraska. The Bluejays struggled during that stretch but are one of the hottest teams in the nation. Grabbing them as three-point favorites is a great play, in my opinion.
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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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