NCAA Basketball Picks: Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin

Darin Zank

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 3:21 PM GMT

The Rebels of Ole Miss tied for second place in the Southeastern Conference this year, won the conference tournament by beating highly regarded Florida and own 26 victories overall.


NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: Rebs Battle Badgers
 

So, what do they get for all that? A 12 seed in the NCAA tournament and an opening-round game versus the pain-in-the-ass Wisconsin Badgers Friday in Kansas City (12:40 pm ET, TruTV).

Gee, thanks a lot.

Can the Rebs continue their recent winning ways with an upset victory Friday? Or can the Badgers take the first step toward a third-straight appearance in the Sweet 16?

And how might this game fall along the pointspread? 

Badgers-Rebs Betting Lines

Most books we sampled opened this game with Wisconsin favored by five points, with a total of 128. The Badgers have since been bumped to -6 at many shops, while the total has been bet down a point to 127.

Going by Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com Wisconsin should be favored by 4.5 points for this game.

Bettors out there who like Mississippi's chances of winning this game outright can get the Rebs at +240 on the NCAAB odds moneyline at BetOnline.

Badgers-Rebs Preview

Ole Miss returned four starters this year from a team that won 20 games last season but missed the NCAA tournament for the 10th-straight year. Most “experts” were picking the Rebs to finish somewhere in the middle of the SEC this year.

But with help from talented transfer Marshall Henderson Mississippi went 11-2 through its non-conference season, although the Rebs lost the only game they played against a team that eventually made the NCAA tournament, falling to Middle Tennessee State.

The Rebels won their first six SEC games, then struggled through a 2-5 stretch, but ended the regular season by winning four of their last five games. Ole Miss then knocked off Missouri, Vandy and Florida in succession to win the SEC tournament and get the number 12 seed.

The Rebs are 3-3 in games this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament. 

On the other side of this matchup Wisconsin is playing in the NCAA tournament for the 15th-straight season, the fourth-longest active streak. The Badgers returned four starters this season from a team that lost to top-seeded Syracuse by one point in the round of 16 last year, but because that one departed starter was PG Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin was expected by many to struggle a bit this season.

UW started just 6-4 this season, with a win over Cal and losses to Florida, Creighton, Virginia and Marquette. The Badgers then won seven in a row, capped off by a victory at then-No. 1 Indiana, but went 8-6 the rest of the way to finish in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten at 12-6.

Then in the conference tournament Wisconsin knocked off Michigan and Indiana for the second time each this season, before losing the Big Ten championship game Sunday to Ohio State 50-43.

On the season the Badgers are 9-8 against teams that eventually made the NCAA tournament.

Badgers-Rebs, By the Numbers

Wisconsin, which has played what Sagarin ranks as the second-toughest schedule in all of college basketball this season, is shooting 43 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3-point land and a troublesome 63 percent from the FT line. But the Badgers are also holding opponents to 39 percent FG shooting and out-rebounding foes by about four boards per game.

Ole Miss, which has played Sagarin's 98th-toughest schedule, is shooting 44 percent from the floor, 33 percent from beyond the arc and 68 percent from the line. The Rebs are also holding opponents to 41 percent shooting and out-boarding foes by about one per game.

[gameodds]14/225014/92-43-999996-1537/us[/gameodds]

Badgers-Rebs Betting Trends

Wisconsin is 14-15 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Badgers games have averaged just 121 points. Obviously, linesmakers have been posting some very low totals on Wisconsin games.

Ole Miss is 15-11 on the totals, as Rebs games have averaged 145 points.

Free NCAA Tournament Pick:

We can't quite tell how good Ole Miss is, because they just haven't played enough quality opponents this season to give us a good read. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is battle-tested, having played 17 games against NCAA tournament teams. The Badgers also have five guys capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night, and several big guys who can shoot the 3. If Wisconsin can limit Henderson, hit a few threes and make its free throws, it should come away with the cash Friday.

Take the Badgers at the -5.5 points offered at Legends.  

Another big game to watch, check out Mizzou vs. Colorado State!