The Wisconsin Badgers play host to the Indiana Hoosiers in a Big Ten showdown tonight. Lets take a look at the odds that the sportsbook
odds makers have on tap for us and decide where we should place our NCAA Basketball picks.
There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that grass grows
faster than points are scored in a Wisconsin Badgers basketball game. It just seems that way.
An absolutely huge contest in the Big Ten is on the college
basketball betting slate tonight in Madison
(9 PM, ESPN2). The lone matchup between
ranked foes that evening, it gains marquee status just for that. Far more important than that is how it will
affect the tight standings at the top of the conference and just where Wisconsin and the
Indiana Hoosiers wind up in the seeding for the NCAA tournament.
Making it interesting for the fan or sports betting enthusiast is the clash of
styles we'll see on the floor, but then that is often the case when any team
battles the Badgers. Indiana ranks as one of the top scoring
teams in the country at just below 80 points per game, though that number has
been dropping since the Big Ten schedule arrived. The Hoosiers are still averaging 72.4 PPG on
the conference schedule, third most in the league.
has seen inflation applied to it's top-ranked scoring defense in conference
play. The Badgers are No. 1 nationally
allowing a ridiculous 49.6 PPG overall. Bo Ryan's bunch is surrendering 57.6 per game in Big Ten action, still
second in league play just behind the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The NCAA basketball odds opened with Wisconsin favored on its own floor at -7. Those
folks keen on the NCAA Basketball betting totals are looking at 126-127 for
Seven teams are within two games of the lead in the Big Ten,
is bringing up the rear in that group with a 4-4 league mark. The Hoosiers have dropped three of their last
four games heading into this one. Wisconsin, at 5-3, is a game behind the trio at the top (Ohio St., Michigan
and Michigan St.),
and has started to turn things around with a 4-game win streak. What all Big Ten teams are fighting for is a
top-4 finish in the regular season standings to earn a first-round bye in the
March 8-11 tourney in Indianapolis.
Who knows? Maybe not
having that bye would be a good thing for Tom Crean's Hoosiers. With the tournament in Indianapolis, sitting around an extra day
with pressure to win in Indy might be a bad thing.
Indiana is still getting a lot of respect in all of the
polls and rating systems, from 16th and 17th in the major polls to 11th in both
the Ken Pomeroy and Sagarin Ratings, but there's the feeling this team still
has something to prove that it deserves to be a real threat to make any noise in
March. There's some nice balance here
offensively, so the keys might be Will Sheehey and Verdell Jones III, and how
much they can remove some of the pressure from Cody Zeller.
There may not be many who are fans of Bo Ryan's style; after
all, it doesn't sell well on Madison Avenue. But the end result remains the same in the win column. Ryan and the Badgers were feeling the heat
after three consecutive conference losses to Iowa,
about three weeks ago. The New Years Eve
defeat at home to the Hawkeyes as 16 point chalk might still come back to haunt
Wisconsin, but team has done a very solid job turning around that slump with
four straight wins, covering three of the victories in that string.
Allowing eight extra points per game in Big Ten games was
mentioned, but the team has been remarkably consistent in scoring averages
between the non-conference and conference schedules. Wisconsin
is has put up 65.6 points per game overall, and 65.6 per Big Ten tilt. Jordan Taylor is shouldering a lot of the
blame for the inconsistencies on the offensive end, and rightfully so. There are other Badgers contributing to the
problems, but this should be Taylor's
team to lead.
The series has been all Wisconsin of late to the tune of eight straight
wins, the Badgers covering seven of those lines. Kohl
Center has also been kind to the home
team in this series, Wisconsin
winning the last eight here and covering four of the last five.
Taking a Chance: As well
as the Badgers have been rolling of late -- as well as Indiana
having stumbled a bit at the same time -- and given the history in this series,
it seems too easy to jump on Wisconsin's
bandwagon. But seven points is perhaps too much to ask the Badgers to lay.
Let's take the Hoosiers +7 and look for a few more points than normal. My NCAA Basketball pick is Wisconsin, 66-62.