For the second year in a row, we solicited Michigan basketball over/under propositions to preview the 2017-18 season.
There were some great submissions and this year we are also opening it up for readers to participate. Each posted over/under proposition has an attached poll so you can vote with your opinion. We’ll follow up at the end of the season to see how we did.
Over/under: 2.5 40% shooters from three on the roster
This probably needs some sort of volume qualifier, but I’ll go OVER. Duncan Robinson has shot 44% from three over two years and is a safe bet to hit that mark again this year. I also think that we can bet on two out of Jordan Poole, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Moritz Wagner hitting at a 40% clip. There’s also the possibility of a backdoor cover here if someone like Eli Brooks makes 8 out of 15 threes in a limited role.
Over/under: 0.5 freshmen averaging 20 minutes per game or more
Derrick Walton (26.7, 2014) and Aubrey Dawkins (20.7, 2015) were the last two freshmen to average 20 minutes per game. Dawkins probably never hits that mark if Caris LeVert doesn’t get injured (or even if Michigan doesn’t play 5 overtime games).
Other than Dawkins, the freshmen under John Beilein who played 20 minutes per night usually had the opportunity to step into starting spots. Walton, Nik Stauskas, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Darius Morris didn’t really have to beat out any kind of significant contributor for minutes during their freshman year.
I don’t see a situation like that for any of Michigan’s incoming freshmen. If Eli Brooks, Jordan Poole or Isaiah Livers wants to play over 20 minutes per night, they’ll have to knock someone out of the lineup or rotation and for that reason I’m going UNDER.
Over/under: 7.5 different players get at least 1 start
If there are no injuries, then this is an easy UNDER. There’s more uncertainty on this year’s roster, but for this to go over, then three players who open the year as starters would have to be knocked out of the lineup. Last year, Michigan started only 6 players and had the same starting lineup from game 3 onward (other than a clerical error that saw Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman come off the bench by accident). In the past, Beilein has generally been comfortable sticking with one lineup over the long haul.
Injuries happen and could push this over, but I’ll stick with the under.
Over/under: 1.5 players receive All-Big Ten honors (3rd team or better, no honorable mention)
I’ll go with the OVER. Moritz Wagner should be a lock to make at least one team and then I can easily see Charles Matthews or Jaaron Simmons earning a spot as one of the league’s top-15 players. This is probably a foolish bet (Michigan hasn’t had two players on the top 3 teams since 2014), but the league is down on star power and the opportunity is there.
Over/under: 62 made threes by Jordan Poole (62 was Zak Irvin’s number his freshman year)
I’m going to take the UNDER, but not because I’m down on Poole. 62 is just a huge number. Last year, 7 Michigan players made at least 40 threes, but Walton (98) and Robinson (64) were the only two to make more than 55.
If Poole shoots 40% from 3-point range, then he’d have to attempt 158 3-pointers in around 34 games which is over 4.5 attempts per night. I’d take the over up to the low 50s, but I’ll go with the under at 62.
Over/under: 16 mpg for Zavier Simpson
O/U on Zavier logging 25 or more minutes in 10 tier A+B (kenpom) games.
We’ll tackle these two props at the same time. Simpson maxed out at 18 minutes (twice) last season and averaged 8.7 minutes per game. He was the No. 3 guard on the roster last year, but he wasn’t ready to play. This year, I think he’ll be the No. 3 guard and but presumably to contribute.
If you peg Simmons and Abdur-Rahkman around 30 minutes per game, then there are an extra 20 available at those two spots. From there, the question becomes whether Jordan Poole plays primarily at the two or the three as a freshman.
I think the 16 minutes per game number is probably right on target for Simpson, but I’ll go with a slight OVER. As far as playing 25 minutes in ten top-100 games, I’ll hedge and go with the UNDER.
Over/under: 3 double-doubles for Moritz Wagner
I’ll take the UNDER. Wagner only grabbed 10 rebounds in two games last season and he just hasn’t shown the rebounding chops to consistently record double-doubles. The rebounding woes combined with his inconsistency on the road make this an under bet.
Over/under 2.5 future NBA players on the roster
Similar to the next question, this is an UNDER for me. Maybe I’ll look foolish in time, but I see a number of really good college players but not three pros on the current roster.
O/U 1.5 players drafted this year
I’ll go with Moritz Wagner and take the UNDER. You could make a case that Charles Matthews might have a chance given his athletic talents, but that would take a significant improvement from anything we’ve seen at Kentucky.
Over/under: 6 minutes per game for Eli Brooks
6 minutes per game is a pretty low bar (Ibi Watson hit 4.4 minutes last year and was a non-factor), but it will be tough sledding for Brooks to crack the rotation as a third ‘short guard’ on the roster. There’s been plenty of offseason praise for Brooks — a great shooter and a surprising athlete — but with Simmons and an improved Zavier Simpson, I think this might be an UNDER.
Over/under: .5, players to redshirt
This one should be an UNDER.
I have a harder and harder time finding the use in redshirting players in modern college basketball — especially guards and wings. In Michigan’s case, a number of redshirts have ended up playing their final seasons elsewhere. It worked for Jordan Morgan, but if there’s a chance that a freshman can play in his first year, then I think it is worth the risk to play him.
Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers are both involved in key position battles and it would only take one injury for Eli Brooks to be critical to the guard rotation. I say play them and figure the rest out later.
Over/under: 10 minutes per game for Jordan Poole.
Let’s go with the OVER. Poole seems to have a chance to fight for minutes at the two or three this season and he’s an elite perimeter shooter. Guys who can hit 40 percent from 3-point range usually play for John Beilein.
Over/under: 4.5 final finish for Michigan in the Big Ten
I’ll take the OVER here because I participated in a preseason poll where I voted the Wolverines sixth. This team is definitely capable of a top-4 finish, but there is just too much uncertainty for me to bet on it right now.
On paper, Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern all have more returning talent and only four of those teams would need to finish ahead of Michigan to win the bet.
1.5 number of techs Mo gets for arguing calls
Let’s go with the UNDER here. I’m not sure that Wagner’s tendency to debate calls helps him get a favorable whistle, but he’s seemed to walk the line of not getting T’d up quite well.
6 minutes a game for Ibi
This one is interesting. Ibi Watson’s freshman season was a disappointment, but he’s made physical improvements during the off season and could provide production at weak spots in the roster. There’s room for another option at the 3 or the 4 and if Watson can shoot the ball and has a vertical leap over 40 inches, then why couldn’t he crack the rotation?
6 minutes per game is a fairly low bar (Watson averaged 4.4 last season), so I’ll go with the OVER.
7pts/7rebs combined averages from Davis/Teske
I’ll take the UNDER. I don’t see the duo earning enough playing time to produce those kind of numbers. Even if both players can fill the 8-12 minutes per game behind Moritz Wagner adequately, those numbers just seem way too high. For example, 7 rebounds in 12 minutes is equivalent of 23 boards per 40 minutes.
3pt attempts allowed p/g – 17.5
Last year, teams attempted 15.6 threes per game against Michigan.
This is a lot easier to think about using 3PA/FGA, which was 28.8% a season ago — the 9th lowest rate in the country. If Michigan allowed 17.5 3-point attempts per game last year, its 3PA/FGA would have been 32.3% and that would still be a very good number (ranked in the top-50 nationally).
I think that the Wolverines definitely stumbled onto something by limiting 3PA allowed while attempting so many triples. For example, Michigan made double-digit threes in 18 games last season, its opponents made double-digit threes in just three (all losses). The fact that the strategy worked makes me think that it will stick around and continue to be a trend in 2017-18. Give me the UNDER.
2pt % allowed – 50.5%
Until this is goes under 50%, I’m taking the OVER. Michigan’s 2-point defense over the last three years: 50%, 51.1%, 50.8% and 50.2%. They lose their only shot blocker from last year’s roster and will replace a chunk of DJ Wilson’s minutes with arguably the worst defender in last year’s rotation (Duncan Robinson). It’s hard to see how Michigan improves its interior defense, but the case for an under would be that more athleticism on the wing (Charles Matthews) helps out.
O/U: 9.5 Big Ten wins
This is probably exactly where I’d set the line. I’ll take the OVER, but it is very close. Bart Torvick’s site projects 10-8 so I’ll use that as a tiebreaker and go over.
O/U: 1.5 games played in the NCAA tournament
Give me the OVER. This is a team that has the ability to make the NCAA tournament and I’ll take John Beilein to win at least one game once he makes it to the dance. Michigan has lost its first game in the NCAA tournament just once under Beilein.
O/U: 25th in KenPom Adj O metric
Michigan has had one of the four best offenses in the country in three of the last five seasons. The two seasons that John Beilein’s team didn’t accomplish that mark, his team lost its best offensive player to injury midway through the season. This year’s group has question marks offensively, but it is hard to bet against Beilein coaching a top-25 offense in any given year. I’ll take the UNDER, meaning that Wolverines have a top-25 offense.
O/U: 62nd in KenPom Adj D metric
I’ll take the OVER, meaning that Michigan finishes somewhere worse than 62nd nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. Last year’s team finished 70th and I’m not convinced that they can make a significant improvement against that number — even though Beilein has been praising the defense in early practices.
Number of players averaging more than 29 minutes per game: 3.5
I’ll take the OVER: Moritz Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and Jaaron Simmons.
O/U on 7 non-conference wins (not including post-season)
I think this line might be a little low so I’m definitely going OVER. North Florida, Central Michigan, Southern Miss, LSU, UC Riverside, Detroit, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville gives you eight wins. So basically, we can hit the over on this prop if Michigan wins all of its guarantee or non-high-major games at at least one other game.
Over/under: Matthews 5.5 rebounds per game.
Michigan has to replace 16.6 rebounds per game and Matthews is the most dynamic athlete on the roster. Defensive rebounding is going to be a huge concern for this team, but I think this is an OVER. Reports are that Matthews has been grabbing more rebounds than anyone else in practice and I think he can hit 5.5 per game.
O/U on Livers playing 9 minutes per game.
I’ll take the OVER. Livers plays a position of need on this roster and I can see him scraping his way to 10 minutes per game.
Over under on MAAR shooting 38% from 3.
Abdur-Rahkman is a career 36% 3-point shooter, but he’s improved in each of his three seasons. He shot an incredible 49% in Big Ten games last season, but his role should require him to take more difficult 3-pointers this season. All things considered, the UNDER is probably the safer bet.
O/U on Simmons averaging 5 assists per game like Walton.
I’ll take the OVER. Simmons averaged 7.2 assists per game at Ohio and this roster needs someone to replace Irvin and Walton’s playmaking from the backcourt. Simmons is a high-volume ball screen player and as long as he learns the offense he should have no problem racking up assists.
0.5, number of national championships
This one is an UNDER. This is a good roster, but it isn’t a Final Four type of roster on paper.
Under/over on different starting lineups. 3.5
Assuming no major injuries, I’ll go UNDER. As I mentioned in the earlier question about number of different starters, Beilein is generally very comfortable sticking with a lineup if he likes it early on. Given the experience in the group, I don’t see this as a year that he starts experimenting.
Over under 0.5, Big Ten schools directly involved in FBI probe by end of season
I’ll take the OVER, but it is hard to really say without knowing how far the investigation goes. In short, I don’t think it is safe to bet against anyone being involved.
O/U 3FGM: 275
Three John Beilein teams failed to make 275 threes in a season: 2008, 2010, 2015. Those are the only three Beilein teams that a) failed to make the NCAA tournament and b) finished .500 or worse.
I’m not saying that this is a magic number, but if Michigan is going to have a successful season then this number probably has to go over. I’ll bet the OVER because while I’m not sure how everything will work, I think Beilein will figure out a way to fit the pieces together.
Over/under on players leaving program with eligibility remaining: 2.5
I’ll go with the UNDER. One departure (Moritz Wagner to the NBA draft) is almost assured and it would never be surprising to see a transfer in this day and age of college basketball, but 1 or 2 departures seems more likely than 3 or more.
O/U losses to non P5 team: 0.5
North Florida, Central Michigan, Southern Miss, UC Riverside, Detroit, Alabama A&M and Jacksonville. Those are low and mid-majors set in stone on Michigan’s 2017-18 schedule and I don’t see many upset candidates. Is it possible? Sure, the math says there’s something like a 75% chance that Michigan wins all of those games (using Bart Torvick’s projections), but I’ll take my chances.
There’s also the chance that the Wolverines could face Wichita State (now of the American Athletic Conference — are they a mid-major or high-major?) during their stay in Maui. The Shockers are the favorite to win the tournament, which would mean that Michigan would most likely to beat LSU and Notre Dame to even face them.
Given all of those facts, I’ll take the UNDER.
O/U – Matthews 24.5 three-pointers
To me, this comes down to whether Matthews attempts 100 threes. Even if you project him around a low-30s 3-point shooter in his first year in Michigan’s offense, he’d hit this number.
Glenn Robinson III made just 23 threes in 39 games as a freshman, so it is very possible to play the wing in Ann Arbor and make less than 25 threes (he made 33 as a sophomore). But if Matthews is going to be the playmaking wing on this team, then he’s probably going to attempt 100 threes. Give me the OVER.
Matthews 3pt attempt p/g – 3.5
Matthews 3pt make p/g – 1.25
Playing off the math above, I think I have Matthews pegged right around 3 attempts per game and we’ll say a 33% clip — say something like 35 of 105 over a 35 game season. Those would put both of these UNDER by a hair.