No love lost between these two teams as they battle it out on Valentine’s Day. Once the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, both now going through a bit of a rocky stretch as they find themselves in the middle of the conference standings. Still, you can always expect bad blood to be spilled when these two physical teams battle it out. In a must win situation for both programs, who will come out on top?
Michigan Vs. Wisconsin Odds
Oddsmakers give the lean towards the Badgers to pull out the win on their home court by opening them as a -1.5 favorite. Bettors have yet to make a firm stand but have ticked the number down to -1 in some shops as of writing. The number is in line with projections, giving the current number no value to make a wager on. Motivation is negated out for both units as each of them are in must win situations to keep their March Madness hopes alive.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 130.5. Bettors were quick to hit the over, taking the number up to 131.5 before it became widely available. This comes as a bit of a surprise as both units’ field respectable defenses while their offenses have mightily struggled. Especially on Wisconsin’s end, falling completely flat on their face in the second half against Nebraska in their last game out.
Michigan Vs. Wisconsin Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Wait on the under
With that said, I will wait to see if the total continues its run towards the over before putting a position on the under. This comes as a complete surprise as both units are well equipped to give each other’s shaky offenses fits throughout the full forty minutes of the game. Both are already prone to scoring lulls, now going against identities that will do them no favors in finding any sort of scoring consistency.
Speaking of scoring lulls, Wisconsin comes into this one off an overtime loss to Nebraska that encapsulates that. They blew a big 17-point lead in the second half due to their inability to score, continuing their cold stretch into overtime. Their best player Tyler Wahl was practically nonexistent, finishing the contest by shooting 1-6 for six points on 40 minutes of play. Success may be tough to come by once again as he matches up against Hunter Dickinson.
When Wahl is taken out of the Badger’s offense, this unit crumbles in production. He posts one of the heavier usage rates in basketball with the offense flowing through him in the interior. He gives Wisconsin both a scoring threat on the block as well as being able to facilitate back towards the perimeter for an open three-point look. When that aspect of their offense is taken away, the Badgers run stagnant by forcing looks which results in too many empty trips.
Due to their lack of consistency on offense, the Badgers AdjO metric has plummeted. Wisconsin now ranks 145th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom. Their recent regression is in direct correlation with Tyler Wahl’s dip in production as he is now averaging 11.7 points per game. A dip from earlier in the year.
Michigan Vs. Wisconsin Key Matchups
Can the Badger’s frantic defense limit the Michigan scoring output?
Michigan scoring output vs Wisconsin inside out defense
Unlike Wahl, Michigan’s big man Hunter Dickinson has continued to produce at an elite level by averaging 17.9 points per game as well as hauling in 8.4 rebounds. The issue that Michigan has run into is that they have severely lacked a consistent second scorer. Dickinson can only do so much before opposing defenses clamp down on the block.
Jett Howard has slowly molded into that type of go-to scorer, as well as being an elite perimeter presence, but their production takes a dip after that. Especially from the perimeter as a starting unit with no one else averaging more than 32% from deep.
Their lack of perimeter shooting has allowed opposing defenses to sag down into the interior, clogging the paint for Dickinson and cutting off lanes towards the rim. If Wisconsin can continue to guard the perimeter at an elite rate and force the Wolverines down low, then Michigan’s offense will struggle to generate any sort of scoring consistency.
With early money indicating that the total will continue to rise, I will wait to see how high it can go before taking a position on the under.