NCAA Basketball: LSU/Michigan Preview, Odds and Prediction - 03/22/2021

by Big Al Staff

LSU battles Michigan in a heavyweight battle on CBS at 7:10 PM ET. The winner of this East region matchup plays the winner of the Florida State/Colorado contest.

LSU flexed their muscles in a 76-61 victory against St. Bonaventure as a 1.5-point favorite on Friday. The Tigers controlled the glass against the Bonnies by outrebounding them by 15 boards. Will Wade had three players register double-doubles. Sophomore Aundre Hyatt scored 13 points with 10 rebounds, sophomore Trendan Watford scored 11 points with 11 rebounds, and junior Darius Davis added 13 points with 11 rebounds. Freshman Cameron Thomas led the team with 27 points after converting 11 of his 13 shots from the charity stripe.

Thomas leads the team with a 22.8 points-per-game scoring average. Watford is second with his 16.5 points-per-game clip, and he pulls down 7.5 rebounds-per-game.

LSU is peaking just in time for March Madness with five victories in their last six games, including six straight-point spread covers. The Tigers lost by one-point in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama.

LSU ranks fifth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They average 81.0 points-per-game. Yet the play on the other end of the court continues to be a weakness for Wade-coached teams. LSU ranks 122nd in adjusted defensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. Opponents make 50.9% of their shots inside the arc, 223rd in the country. The Tigers let opponents pull down 32.4% of their missed shots, 320th in the nation.

LSU ranks 23rd nationally by the kenpom ratings with a 19-9 record. They earned the eighth seed in the East region. They registered five victories against teams who made the NCAA tournament with wins against Arkansas (twice), Missouri, Tennessee, and the Bonnies on Saturday. The Tigers were 11-6 in the SEC with three losses to the Crimson Tide. COVID impacted their season with games postponed and re-arranged due to outbreaks inside and outside their program. Wade did not coach two games given quarantine protocols.

Michigan had lost three of their previous five games entering the NCAA tournament before handling Texas Southern, 82-66, as a 28.5-point favorite on Saturday. Point guard Mike Smith led the way with 18 points and five assists. Freshman Hunter Dickinson added 16 points. Sophomore Franz Wagner had 9 points with 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

Dickinson leads the team with a 14.3 points-per-game scoring average and a 7.4 rebounds-per-game mark. Wagner contributes 12.7 points-per-game and 6.3 rebounds-per-game. The Wolverines are without Isaiah Livers, whose recent stress fracture in his foot likely has him out for the rest of the season. The senior was scoring 13.1 points-per-game while adding 6.0 rebounds-per-game and 2.0 assists-per-game. Junior Brandon Johns takes his place in the starting lineup. The former blue-chip recruit under John Beilein scored 11 points on Saturday.

The Wolverines rank third in the nation at kenpom with a 21-4 record. They won the Big Ten regular-season title with a 14-3 mark. Their recent three losses to Illinois, Michigan State, and Ohio State were all against teams that made the NCAA tournament. Michigan is the only team still standing amongst that group after being tabbed as the top seed in the East region.

Michigan ranks eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. The Wolverines are 22nd with an effective field goal percentage of 54.9%. They are making 38.5% of their 3-point shots, ranking 11th nationally. Michigan will encounter a Tigers’ defense that is 14th in the nation by holding opponents to a 29.6% shooting percentage from 3-point land.

The Wolverines are sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are sixth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 44.6% mark. They rank third nationally by limiting their opponents to just 42.3% shooting inside the arc.

This game will be at Lucas Oil Stadium. BetAnySports lists Michigan as a 5-point favorite with the total set at 148.

Computer prediction:  Michigan 77 LSU 72

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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