NCAA Basketball odds makers opened the Hoosiers as 6.5 point favorites in their Big Ten Tournament matchup over the Badgers, and rightfully so. The Hoosiers are likely the best team in the country right now, and have the odds makers set the lines too close?
Let's look at both of these teams and decide where the best value lies for our NCAA Basketball picks.
Wisconsin can win because…
The Badgers are always a tough out for any team they face. One of the biggest reasons is the height and length of its players, combined with the way coach Bo Ryan uses this to cover and space the floor at both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. On the defensive side of the coin, Wisconsin's length can make it very difficult for anyone trying to score from the middle of the painted area, especially against a team like Indiana that - while blessed with a great big man in Cody Zeller - must contend with the Badgers' whole big list of capable low-post players: Ryan Evans, Mike Breusewitz, and Jared Berggren. UW's depth is sure to create a very difficult situation for the Hoosiers.
The other major factor is going to be if the Badgers' shots fall in or not, because with the swing-style offense that spaces the floor, Wisconsin creates an offensive structure that makes it hard to keep all wing shooters covered. The Badgers regularly generate open shots. In games past this team has at times lived and died based on its three-point shooting combined with its shot clock-draining emphasis and its deliberate pace, which can completely frustrate opponents. However, Wisconsin's approach only really works well when the Badgers' shots go in to keep them ahead or at least close during the game. The odds might very well work in favor of Wisconsin here because the Badgers went 5 for 29 in the first half against Michigan on Friday in the quarterfinals... and lived to tell about it. Wisconsin should have a much better first half in this game against Indiana.
Indiana can win because…
Indiana is probably the best team in the country at this time. One of the biggest reasons why is Victor Oladipo, who will be going to the draft this year in all likelihood, and rightly should with his strong dynamic style and heads-up play. Big man Cody Zeller is also going to be a big key in this matchup. How well he is able to respond to the multiple bigs Wisconsin throws at him will have a lot to say about the eventual outcome of this contest, but he was Indiana's best player on the floor in Friday's easy quarterfinal romp over Illinois. He brought his best stuff to Chicago, and if he plays anywhere close to his "Illinois" level against Wisconsin, the Badgers are going to be in huge trouble in this first Big Ten semifinal.
The last real important factor is going to be the Hoosiers' defensive effort, specifically, if it can keep up with all of the three-point shooting that can come from the Badgers, a perimeter-oriented team. Are the Hoosier big men going to be comfortable playing that far away from the basket, and will they get caught in the switches and screens that are part of Wisconsin's intricate sets? Indiana coach Tom Crean has kept his team focused this season, so the Hoosiers should be able to rise to this challenge.
The last important aspect of this game from an Indiana standpoint will be if more than one of the Hoosiers can get good penetration to the rim against the hard containment defense of the Badgers, so that they can break it down and get the good outside looks on kickout passes that they'll want to use in this game.
Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.
Outlook & College Basketball Betting Prediction:
This is a revenge game for Indiana. Wisconsin completely dictated the pace and style of the first clash between these two clubs. Indiana has been waiting for a second crack at the Badgers and should be able to impose its will on Wisconsin.
College Basketball Pick: Indiana -6.5 at Bovada