Texas Tech Red Raiders (28-6) vs. Michigan Wolverines (30-6)
Game time: Thursday, March 28, 9:39 p.m. ET
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, California
Where to watch: CBS
Spread: Michigan -1.5
No. 2 seed Michigan faces off against No. 3 Texas Tech in the Sweet Sixteen Thursday in what could potentially be the most exciting defensive battle of the NCAA tournament.
Michigan and Texas Tech rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in scoring defense. The Wolverines are better at guarding the three (fifth in the nation at 29.0 percent), while the Red Raiders boast the second-best field-goal percentage defense, allowing the opposition to shoot just 36.8 percent per game.
Offensively, Texas Tech is putting up 73.2 points per game; Michigan is close behind with 70.3. The Red Raiders depend on the play of guard Jarrett Culver (18 ppg, 6.5 rpg), a projected NBA lottery pick. The team’s second-leading scorer, Davide Moretti (11.5 ppg), is the only player in college basketball who is shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Tariq Owens (8.9 ppg, 5.7 rbg) is a force in the paint and ranks ninth in the nation in blocked shots with 83 this season.
The star for Michigan’s offense has been Ignas Brazdeikis, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The 6’7” forward is averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three. The rest of the starting lineup is stepping up at the right time. Team assist leader Zavier Simpson (6.8 per game) dropped 19 dimes over the first two NCAA tournament games. Charles Matthews scored 22 in Michigan’s 74-55 win over Montana in its opening game of the tournament, and Jordan Poole led the team with 19 in the Wolverines’ 64-49 victory over Florida.
Neither team struggled with its competition in the first weekend of March Madness, but Thursday will be an entirely different story. Look for the game to come down to the final possession. Michigan has the more well-rounded offense, and it’s averaging the fewest turnovers per game in the country. Texas Tech will need Culver to shine and its defense to force Michigan into one-on-one mismatches, something the Wolverines haven’t handled well during the season.
Texas Tech is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games overall and 4-0 ATS in its last four against the Big Ten. Michigan is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six NCAA tournament games and 9-3 in its last 12 versus the Big 12.
With Michigan hungry for another crack at the national title game following its loss to Villanova last year, the Wolverines have slightly more riding on the game and just enough of an offensive advantage to take down Texas Tech. Take Michigan -1.5.
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