Michigan vs Northwestern Odds, Picks and Predictions: Wolverines Looking Like Prey

Things have gone from bad to worse for Michigan this season, now missing two top players for tonight's showdown with Northwestern. See why our college basketball picks don't think the Wolverines will put up much of a fight.

Feb 22, 2024 • 12:24 ET • 4 min read
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No team in the Big Ten has been as bad as the Michigan Wolverines this year and things keep getting worse for Juwan Howard with an underappreciated Northwestern Wildcats team up next on the schedule.

With Northwestern on pace to make its second straight NCAA Tournament, the college basketball odds have the Wildcats as a 12.5-point home favorite in a game that should see the Wildcats taking advantage of a depleted Wolverines squad.

Find out where my best bets lie in our college basketball picks and predictions for Michigan vs. Northwestern on Thursday, February 22.

Michigan vs Northwestern best odds

Michigan vs Northwestern picks and predictions

For the first time in school history, the Northwestern Wildcats could make the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years. Head coach Chris Collins guided the program to the tournament for the first time in 2016-17 and then again last season, with this year’s team projected as a 9-seed, per Joe Lunardi.

It’s been the offense, led by star guard Boo Buie, that’s really been the difference for Northwestern this season, and with the Michigan Wolverines missing their two best players, the Wildcats can really beat up on a lackluster defense. Northwestern’s team total of 75.5 points would look good against a Wolverines team at full strength and looks even better against what Juwan Howard will have to put on the court Thursday night.

The Wildcats offense has been potent this season, putting up 76.7 points per game in Big Ten play and hanging 92 points and 96 points in upsets of Purdue and Illinois, respectively. Behind Buie’s 19 points per game, Northwestern is 34th in adjusted offensive efficiency this season, per KenPom, and Buie is 10th in the Big Ten in OBPR, per Evan Miyakawa.

It isn’t just the Buie show in Evanston though, as a team, the Wildcats are sixth in the country in 3-point percentage (39.2%) and even better in conference play where the team is leading the Big Ten in 3-point percentage (42.7%) and second in threes made per game (nine). 

The Wildcats have been one of the most efficient shooting teams in the Big Ten, with Buie hitting 41.3% from deep on the season, and Brooks Barnhizer and Ryan Langborg each hitting at least one three per game. Langborg has been shooting 40.7% from behind the arc and has been at his best against Big Ten opponents, where he’s hitting two threes on 4.7 attempts per game (42.3%). That freedom to shoot is something Collins has preached to his players.

“(Coach Collins) talks to all of us about just letting it rip,” Langborg said. "Obviously take care of the ball, but you got to put pressure on the defense and take what they're giving you.”

Buie, Barnhizer and Langborg have been one of the most prolific scoring threesomes in the Big Ten this season, combining for 47 points per game in conference games, and are poised to push this Michigan defense.

Not only are the Wolverines allowing 78.9 points per game this season, 339th in the country, but the program is without Dug McDaniel and Olivier Nkamhoua. McDaniel, the team’s leading scorer, is serving an academic suspension and Nkamhoua, the second leading scorer, is out for the season with a wrist injury.

Losing its lead guard and best forward puts an already ugly Wolverines defense in a precarious position against Northwestern’s offense. The Wildcats love to rain threes and Michigan has played some of the worst perimeter defense in the country this season. Howard’s squad ranks 314th in 3-point percentage allowed at 35.6%, and isn’t much better from two with teams shooting 50.8%.

Michigan is 162nd in adjusted defensive efficiency this season and ranks second last in the Big Ten in team DBPR. The Wolverines have allowed at least 76 points in 14 of 26 games this season, with nine of those games coming against Big Ten opponents.

My best bet: Northwestern Over 75.5 points (-115 via bet365)

Michigan vs Northwestern same-game parlay

Northwestern Over 75.5 points

Boo Buie Over 20.5 points

Ryan Langborg Over 2.5 threes made

Buie has been the catalyst for Northwestern’s explosive offensive attack all season and he’s brought his best in Big Ten play. Against conference opponents, Buie is averaging 20.6 points per game, hitting 47.1% from three and getting to the free throw line 5.9 times per game, where he shoots 85.4%.

Nobody in the Big Ten has been able to stop him and he rarely comes off the court, playing 37.2 minutes per game. In 15 Big Ten games this season, Buie has scored at least 21 points seven times. It’s helped that the play around him has been strong too, particularly that of fellow guard Ryan Langborg.

With Ty Berry out for the remainder of the season, there will be more on Langborg’s plate. Berry was taking 5.6 threes per game and making 2.6 of them in conference games, that production will now fall on Langborg’s shoulders to replace. He’s had 10 games of hitting three or more threes this season.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Michigan vs Northwestern spread and Over/Under analysis

Given the Michigan Wolverine’s struggles this season, and the fact the team will be without its two best players, Juwan Howard’s program opened as an 11.5 to 12.5-point road dog. Most books have settled in with Northwestern -12.5.

The Wolverines have been among the worst teams in the country ATS this season, going 7-19 and 3-12 in Big Ten play. The Wildcats are 13-11-2 ATS this season 6-2 over the last eight games.

With Michigan depleted and missing its two leading scorers, the game total opened at 140.5 with it coming down to 137.5 after the news that Northwestern will be without Ty Berry. 

Despite the Wolverine’s issues this season, the defense has been bad enough for the program to go 15-11 betting the Over. Northwestern has also been a solid over bet going 16-9-1 and 12-2-1 in the Big Ten.

Michigan vs Northwestern betting trend to know

Northwestern has hit the Team Total Over in 10 of their last 17 games at home (+1.85 Units / 9% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for Michigan vs. Northwestern.

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Michigan vs Northwestern game info

Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2024
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1

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