It's all about seeding at this stage of the college
basketball betting campaign, first for upcoming conference tourneys that are
less than three weeks away, followed by the NCAA Tournament less than a month
from now. Saturday's tussle in
One of three contests pitting ranked teams on the final Saturday of February, ESPN2 will have the telecast from Carver-Hawkeye Arena beginning at high noon (ET). Betting lines for the clash have yet to be released, so check SBR's live NCAA basketball odds later for those numbers.
Wisconsin and Iowa reach the match only a half-game apart for 3rd-4th in the Big Ten standings, and in close proximity of each other in the rankings. The Hawkeyes have the slim lead over the Badgers in the league ranks, and are rank No. 15 in both polls while Wisconsin comes in No. 16/18.
The No. 1 task of both teams is to finish in the top 4 of the conference race to guarantee a 1st-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. There's still a chance for each to close strong and finish with the regular season title should the Spartans and Wolverines fall off, but more important to Wisconsin and Iowa is holding off the Buckeyes who are presently fifth in the league standings.
Saturday's game is a rematch of a Jan. 5 contest in Madison where the then-unbeaten Badgers needed a huge second half to post a 75-71 victory. Wisconsin's rally was aided by Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's back-to-back technical fouls midway through the second half. The Badgers failed to cover as 6.5 point chalk, though the win was enough to knot the all-time series between the two schools at 79 wins apiece.
Badgers Reach Iowa City On 4-Game Run
Wisconsin (21-5 straight up, 12-12-2 against the spread) is slowly but surely digging itself out of the hole dug by dropping five of six following a 16-0 start on the schedule. Bo Ryan's crew is riding a 4-game win streak into Saturday's battle, with a 60-58 home win over Michigan State nearly two weeks ago and a 75-62 upset of Michigan last Sunday in Ann Arbor included in that stretch.
Part of the resurgence has been due to the Badgers rediscovering their touch from beyond the arc, something that plagued them during the 1-5 stumble. Wisconsin shot less than 30% from 3-point range during that span, but has connected on better than 41% of long-range jumpers while winning the last four.
Frank Kaminsky has also started to reassert himself inside. The 7-foot junior is coming off his first double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 rebounds in the victory at Michigan, and averaging 17.3 PPG the last three contests.
Hawkeyes Back Home After Postponement At Indiana
Iowa (19-6 SU, 15-8 ATS) was to have taken the court Tuesday night in Indiana, but the game was called off after a piece of the ceiling at Assembly Hall fell just hours before the tip. So far, there's no exact date for the makeup, and it's sure to cause an extra headache for McCaffery and his squad whenever it does take place with the last two weeks already full of dates.
If there was any good news to come from the postponement, it's that Melsahn Basabe should be recovered from the flu that was to have benched him vs. the Hoosiers. The senior forward leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding and is fourth on the team in scoring (8.1 ppg). He's probable for Saturday's tilt vs. Wisconsin.
The last four meetings have been decided by four points or less, and Iowa has covered the spread in six straight matchups. Defensive intensity usually gets ramped up in these games, especially this time of the year, so I'll be eagerly awaiting the total with my eye on the low side of the number for my college basketball pick.
College Basketball Pick: Lean Under