Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers can claim the Big Ten title on Thursday when they travel to Minnesota for a college basketball odds matchup against the Golden Gophers.
The schedule maker didn't do the Wisconsin Badgers any favors with a road-heavy conclusion to their Big Ten schedule. A win away from clinching the conference title outright, the Badgers will have to earn that final dubya in one of the two road games remaining on the slate.
Of course, Bo Ryan and Wisconsin have their sights set much higher than just the regular season Big Ten crown, and having a couple of stern tests away from the friendly crowd back in Madison should help the Badgers prepare for next week's conference tourney in Chicago before March Madness begins.
Wisconsin can at least cross one item off their to-do list with a victory Thursday evening in Minnesota against the Golden Gophers. ESPN's coverage of the tilt begins at 7 PM (ET), Wisconsin drawing 6-6½ point chalk on the college basketball odds. A total for the game should be released later this morning.
Gophers Seek 3rd-Straight Home Win Over Wisconsin
The teams met for the first time this season just 12 days ago over in Madison, the Badgers posting a 63-53 triumph that failed to cover a -15 closing line on the NCAA Basketball odds. Frank Kaminsky scored 21 to lead Wisconsin while Bronson Koenig added a career-high 17.
It was the 3rd-straight win over Minnesota for the Badgers, who lead the all-time series 97-90, but it was the fifth time in seven meetings that Gopher backers held winning tickets, one of the other two matchups pushing a 5 point spread.
Williams Arena in Minneapolis has been a particularly tough venue for the Badgers in recent years. Minnesota has come out on top in four of the last five matchups on this floor, covering three of the four victories with a push along the way. The Golden Gophers were 3 point underdogs when Wisconsin came to town last season, and never trailed in scoring an 81-68 upset.
Badgers Set Sights On No. 1 Seed At Big Dance
The triumph vs. Minnesota on February 21 gave Wisconsin (26-3 straight up, 14-14-1 against the spread) its 10th-straight win at the time, a streak that was subsequently stopped in the following game at Maryland. The Terps held the Badgers to just 53 points, low tide on the Big Ten schedule, and contested the inside to help limit Wisconsin to 38.5% shooting from the field (20-52), also the worst mark in conference games.
They bounced back this past Sunday in the final home game of the season, building a 22-point lead early in the second half against Michigan State before coasting to a 68-61 decision. Easing off over the final 12 minutes cost Wisconsin backers who were giving up 9, the fourth consecutive game the Badgers failed to cover.
Can Gophers Keep Badgers From Clinching Title?
Minnesota (17-12 SU, 11-14-1 ATS) has done enough to get a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and all signs point to the Gophers catching Indiana in the second round, the winner of that one most likely going against Maryland. Defense has been an issue in conference play, Minnesota 12th in the league allowing 68.4 PPG and 13th letting opponents connect on 38% of their 3-pointers.
The setback to Wisconsin was the third in a row for the Golden Gophers, a streak they were able to stop at Michigan State a week ago with a 96-90 overtime victory. Five players scored in double figures, led by Carlos Morris' 20 off the bench that helped 'over' bettors cash for a third time in the last four Minnesota contests.
I'll be riding the series trend with my free NCAA basketball picks and take the home team plus the points.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Minnesota +6.5 at 5Dimes