The Big Ten has been a complete mess since the start of conference play. Nearly everybody is capable of beating everybody, and these two are no exception. Michigan State is coming off a very narrow win over rival Michigan, while Wisconsin suffered a setback against Illinois over the weekend.
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Tuesday’s game in Wisconsin.
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin Odds
Wisconsin enters as a slight 1-point home favorite, sitting at -120 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 125.5 points.
Wisconsin has the better tournament case and home-court advantage, but it’s risky business to have them favored when the status of Tyler Wahl is up in the air. Wahl was missed in the Badgers’ forgettable loss and will be needed against a Michigan State team that seems to be gaining confidence. Does Wisconsin have enough in the tank to fend off the challenge?
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin Prediction & Pick
Without a clear sign that Wahl will be on the court for Wisconsin, the advantage has to at least slightly go to Michigan State here. The Spartans have held Big Ten opponents under 60 points in back-to-back games and should have another big night defensively as long as they defend the three-point shot as well as they have all season.
Of course, this is the time of year when we’re seeing some teams venture out onto the road for the first time. Michigan State has only played two true road games so far – a loss to Notre Dame and a win over Penn State – so that’s one reason to be hesitant to roll with the Spartans.
With the rebounding advantage and shooting ability that should be capable enough against a low-scoring team potentially missing its leading scorer, it still feels like Michigan State +1, or Michigan State ML (+100) for the better value, is the safer way to go.
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin Key Matchups
Wisconsin is not a high-scoring team, averaging 68.5 points per game this season. The Badgers know their style of play and still won plenty of games last season without a high-powered offense, but the potential absence of Wahl threatens to take a less than impressive offense and put it in a bad place.
Even in a loss, Wisconsin was fortunate to have Chucky Hepburn and Steven Crowl step up offensively against the Illini. Hepburn erupted for 22 points, while Crowl stayed hot with 20 points of his own. Crowl is averaging 19.3 points over his last four games and would give the Badgers a huge boost if he can sustain that kind of play.
Here’s what Wisconsin can do well without Wahl: shoot threes. The Badgers shoot 37.3% from beyond the arc, with Wahl not much of a factor in that department. Michigan State has defended the three effectively this season, holding opponents under 30%. The Spartans held Michigan to 3/20 from beyond the arc on Saturday. This game feels like it’ll come down to the three-point shot if Wahl can’t play, and Michigan State is well-equipped to keep Hepburn and Crowl more in check than Illinois did.
Wisconsin plays smart basketball, committing only nine turnovers per game and consistently performing on the defensive end. The defense slipped up a bit against Illinois as the Illini turned in a big shooting day, but it should hold up better against a more unsteady Michigan State offense.
The Spartans average 70.4 points per game and have scored 80+ points in regulation against one team all season: Buffalo. Luckily, in what should be a low-scoring game, Michigan State won’t need 80 points.
The Spartans are a solid three-point shooting team, so Wisconsin’s strong defense will be needed in that department. Michigan State has the rebounding advantage with Joey Hauser and Mady Sissoko putting up impressive numbers on the boards.