For the fourth consecutive year, we solicited Michigan basketball over/under propositions to preview the upcoming season.
There were some great submissions, and just like last year, you can vote on each prop. Each posted over/under proposition has an attached poll so you can share your opinion. We’ll follow up at the end of the season to see how we did (here are last year’s results).
Over/under 4 neutral court wins
I think this is probably the right number. I’d set the over/under at 1.5 for the Battle 4 Atlantis and pick Michigan to beat Rutgers in Madison Square Garden, which leaves an over/under of 1.5 postseason games. I’ll go with the OVER.
Over/under 12 Big Ten conference wins
I’ll take the UNDER given the uncertainty around Michigan (replacing key pieces and a head coach) and the fact that the conference schedule is fairly difficult (second toughest in the league, per Bart Torvik’s projections).
Over/under 38.5 combined points for Simpson, Teske, and Livers
This trio combined to average 26.2 points per game (and 38 points per 40 minutes) last season as Michigan’s 4th, 5th, and 6th scoring options. We can assume that all three players will see an uptick in usage rate, and Livers should see a substantial bump in playing time (probably around 10 minutes per game). Combine those factors with a presumed increase in tempo, and I will go with the OVER.
Over/under 19.5 as Michigan’s highest AP Poll ranking
As a reminder, for any ranking prop we will use the numbers to determine what qualifies as “over” versus “under.” That means that in this case, “over” would be a ranking of 20 or worse and under would say that Michigan cracks the top 20 of the AP Poll.
I’m going OVER because this year’s non-conference schedule doesn’t provide the runway for a charge up the rankings early in the year. Michigan has so many tough games in November and December that a few losses are inevitable. Considering that the Wolverines are starting the year outside of the top 25, they’ll need a hot streak at some point to crack the top 20.
Over/under 7.5 NCAA Tournament seed
This feels like an excellent line to me, but I’ll go OVER, meaning an 8 seed or worse. If I had to project, I’d put Michigan somewhere from a 6 to 10 seed range, but if Michigan falls outside of that range, I think it is more likely to be a disappointment than reaching a protected seed.
Over/under 2.5 non-conference program direction panic, anxiety-inducing blowout losses
First off, I disagree with the premise that anxiety-inducing non-conference losses need to be blowouts.
Louisville and Oregon are top-10 caliber squads. Iowa State and Creighton are excellent teams that are more than capable of beating the Wolverines. Add in two more games in the Bahamas, potentially against opponents like North Carolina, Gonzaga, or Seton Hall, and you start to realize what a cruel welcome gift John Beilein left for his successor.
I’d be surprised if Michigan didn’t lose at least three games in the preseason, but I don’t know that they will all be blowouts. I’ll still go OVER, considering there will be plenty of panic and anxiety.
Over/under 2.5 postseason tournament wins (conference tournament + NCAA tournament combined)
This feels like the right number to me, and the Big Ten Tournament draw will probably shape the outcome given the potential for two byes in the bracket. I’ll go with the OVER.
Over/under 1.5 rivalry wins against MSU & OSU combined
I’ll go UNDER. Michigan State is just too talented from top to bottom, and the safe bet is on Michigan and Ohio State splitting their pair of games.
Over/under 1 top 25 recruit for 2020 landed by Howard and staff
Give me the OVER.
Over/under 0.5 technical fouls for Juwan Howard
There’s plenty of mystery and intrigue about the on-court product, but Juwan Howard’s demeanor on the bench is one of more fascinating, but less important, storylines to follow early in the season.
Does Howard argue every call? Does he sit back? How much emotion does he show with his players in good times and bad? College basketball coaches are part of the game, and we have no idea what to expect from Howard in this setting.
The fact that Howard was a player for decades means that we’ve seen him muck it up on the floor. He routinely logged five or six technical fouls per season during the late 90s in the NBA. I will take the OVER.
Over/under 0.5 autobenches by Juwan for a guy with two fouls in the first half
Give me the OVER because any coach is going to sit individual players at specific points for picking up two fouls in the first half. I do think we’ll see an uptick in two-foul participation — Michigan was ranked 314th last year — given that John Beilein was so dedicated to a specific strategy.
Over/under 1.5 Chris Webber courtside appearances at Crisler
I will go with the UNDER here. I do think that Chris Webber will make an appearance at Crisler Center this year, but I think two might be asking a bit too much considering his television responsibilities with Turner.
Over/under 13.5 games until fans and commenters complain about Howard/missing Beilein
This might be the easiest UNDER on the board. There’s inevitably going to be some backup quarterback syndrome and then overcorrection to the backup quarterback syndrome.
When Juwan Howard does things differently and wins, it will be celebrated because it feels so new and different. When Howard does things differently and loses, it will frustrate fans because it feels so new and different.
There might be a game that Michigan wins because of offensive rebounding and loses because of turnover issues. The reaction to either game won’t remember the other.
Over/under 25 hook shots by Zavier Simpson
Simpson made 22 hook shots last season, and with a presumed larger offensive role and faster tempo, it feels safe to take the OVER here. The downside is that the Wolverines could play fewer games after playing six postseason games last year.
Over/under 35 made 3-pointers by Zavier Simpson
I’m going OVER on Zavier Simpson’s 3-point shooting numbers. He made 32 last year, and I think he hits at least 40 triples this year.
Over/under 34% 3-point shooting by Zavier Simpson
I’ll take the OVER again and think it is worth pointing out just how fine the margins are in 3-point percentage. Simpson shot 30.8% from 3-point range last season, but the difference in hitting 34% would have been only three extra makes over 37 games.
Over/under 10.5 FGA per game by Zavier Simpson
Simpson averaged eight shot attempts per game in 2019, but I’ll go with the OVER here when considering increased tempo and the departure of key offensive weapons.
Over/under 120 3-point attempts by Zavier Simpson
Simpson attempted around 35% of his shots from 3-point range over the last two seasons. I don’t see that ratio changing dramatically in his senior year. Assuming around a 30% increase in shot volume, given the last prop, that would put him around 135 3-point attempts and an easy OVER.
Over/under .5 dunks by Zavier Simpson
I will go with the OVER and say that we get a Trey Burke style breakaway dunk from Simpson this year.
Over/under 3.5 left-handed hook shots made by Zavier Simpson
I think Simpson will add something to this game going left, but it might be a floater or some other kind of shot. I’ll take the UNDER on true left-handed hook shots just because that seems difficult to master.
Over/under 300.5 assists on the season for Zavier Simpson (needs 301 for the all-time Michigan record)
At first glance, this didn’t feel realistic, but after thinking about it some more, I’m taking the OVER. Simpson logged 244 assists last year and was one of the best half-court creators in college basketball. If Michigan plays faster in 2019-20, and Simpson improves his transition playmaking, I think he’s more than capable of hitting this number.
Over/under 1.5 players on the team shoot 40% or better from three
Over/under 100 3-point attempts for Teske
Teske was one of the most productive ball screen roll men in the country last year and only ended up with 77 attempts from long distance. I’ll go UNDER 100 attempts because we don’t know that Michigan will run as much of those same actions, and Howard is probably less 3-point oriented to some degree.
Over/under 30% 3 pt percentage from Teske
OVER. Teske started 3-of-15 from 3-point range last year but then made 20 of 62 from January through the end of the season. I don’t think he comes close to 40% or anything like that, but I see him comfortably in the low to mid-30s.
Over/under 35% 3-point shooting for Michigan
Michigan shot 34.2% from 3-point range last season and lost its top two perimeter shooters by volume. I’ll take the UNDER.
Over/under 35% 3-point shooting for Eli Brooks
This is essentially Eli Brooks’ season in one stat. If Brooks can shoot in the high 30s or low 40s from 3-point range, he becomes a legitimate weapon. If he sticks around his career average (27%), then it might be time to look in a different direction. I’ll take the UNDER given that Brooks made less than 30% of his 3-pointers in his first two seasons at Michigan.
Over/under 41% 3-point shooting for Isaiah Livers
Livers checks in at 40% for his career, 43% last season, and 38% in Big Ten play. Given that he’ll be playing more minutes and attempting more shots in a more challenging role, I’ll take the UNDER.
Over/under 5.5 players with ten or more made threes on the season
Michigan had seven players make at least ten 3-pointers last year, which means my immediate reaction is to take the over. Under John Beilein, that would be a lock, but we don’t know how perimeter-oriented Juwan Howard’s offense will be.
I will still take the OVER because I can’t see any of the key rotational players — Simpson, Teske, Livers, Wagner, Brooks, Johns — not recording double-digit 3-pointers if they play significant minutes.
Over/under ten starts for Isaiah Livers at power forward
This is a complicated one. We have no idea who is ready to play at the power forward position and push Livers to another spot, but Livers has spent the summer working to transform his game into a three. I am not entirely convinced that that’s the best position for Livers. I’m also not entirely convinced that someone is going to step up and grab the starting power forward spot and leave no doubt.
I don’t think the answer will be zero starts for Livers at the four, but I’ll stick with the plan and go UNDER.
Over/under 9.5 points per game for Franz Wagner
Give me the OVER. This roster needs scoring and shooting, and Wagner provides both. I think he’ll get his shot attempts and reach double figures.
Over/under 15 minutes per game for Brandon Johns
This is a great question, and I have no idea what to predict right now. I would be surprised if this number is around 15 though, it will either be in the single digits or above 20 minutes per game. I feel like things will either click for Johns, and he’ll be a vital element of the rotation, or Michigan will have to look in a different direction. Right now, I’ll take the OVER and say Johns figures it out and is in Michigan’s rotation.
Style of Play
Over/under 6 technical fouls
Michigan was whistled for five technical fouls in 2018-19 and 2016-17 but hasn’t been hit with six technical fouls in a season over the past nine years. Zavier Simpson and Juwan Howard probably have a technical foul or two in them, but I’ll still go UNDER six.
Over/under 12.5 percent of Michigan’s defensive possessions in zone
Michigan ran man-to-man defense on 99.6% of its half-court defensive plays last season, per Synergy Sports. I expect man-to-man defense to be Juwan Howard’s foundation in Ann Arbor, but it is important to point out that the Miami Heat led the NBA in the percentage of zone possessions last season at 13.9%. Defense in college and the NBA is different for a multitude of reasons, but Michigan’s roster also feels well-equipped to run a zone given its length.
I’ll still go UNDER 12.5 percent, but I’m fascinated to see how this one plays out.
Over/under 29.5 in adjusted offensive efficiency (rank)
Michigan finished last year ranked 24th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, and I would be extremely impressed if Juwan Howard can coach this group into the top 30. I’ll go with OVER, meaning 30th or worse.
Over/under 10.5 in adjusted defensive efficiency (rank)
I will take the OVER here. I’m worried that Michigan’s roster doesn’t have a bonafide wing stopper and think that Charles Matthews’ departure will be overlooked by many.
If I had to guess, I’d say Michigan finishes around the top 50 in adjusted offensive efficiency and top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Over/under 4 post-up plays per game
I’ll take the OVER here. The Wolverines finished last year ranked 324th nationally with 2.5 post up plays per game. I don’t think they’ll flirt with double digits like some post-up heavy teams — Iowa ran 11.5 per contest last season — but I think we’ll see the volume at least double and get up to around 5 or 6 post-up shots/plays per game.
Over/under 8.5 players getting regular rotation minutes in conference play
There are two trains of thought on this one. On one hand, with three established players it would be easy to put together a situation where there aren’t many bench minutes available. On the other hand, I could see Howard and his staff mixing and matching through any number of combinations at the other two spots. I’ll go with the OVER because I’m not sure who will play and think there might be experimentation with the lineup throughout the year.
Over/under 2.5 minutes per game with Castleton and Teske on the floor together
I’ll take the OVER. I think Howard will consider playing these two bigs together in a way that Beilein would never have.
Over/under 10 turnovers per game
Zavier Simpson is as dependable as it gets at point guard, but Michigan averaged 8.9 turnovers per game last year while finishing 5th in the country in turnover rate. Assuming that there’s modest regression in the turnover department — I’m willing to bet the new Michigan coach isn’t as infuriated by travels as the old Michigan coach — along with an increase in tempo, I’ll go with the OVER.
Over/under 16 offensive rebounds per game
By my count, Michigan grabbed 16 or more offensive rebounds in nine games in the past nine years. I expect more emphasis — more than none — on offensive rebounding under Howard, but I’d be shocked to see the Wolverines average over 16 offensive boards per game. Give me the UNDER.
Over/under 0.5 triple-doubles by a Michigan player this season
Michigan doesn’t have a Manny Harris-style triple-double machine on the roster even though Zavier Simpson did record one last year. Strangely, the last two triple-doubles in a Michigan uniform were from 6-foot point guards.
I’ll take the UNDER because Simpson has already done it, and double-digit rebound games will be rare for him.
Over/under 0.5 former Michigan players in the NBA that get selected to an all star team.
I’ll take the UNDER, but Caris LeVert looks like the best chance.
Over/under .5 Big Ten coaches fired
There are plenty of warm coaching situations, but I’m not sure how many are hot. Of the 14 Big Ten coaches, Pat Chambers’ seat is probably the hottest, but I’m not sure what it would take for him to be fired after this season. Northwestern, Illinois, and Indiana all have head coaches that have to answer questions (and soon), but I’m not sure that any are ready to move on. I’ll go UNDER because there isn’t a slam dunk.