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Wisconsin vs. Baylor: NCAA Tournament Second Round Picks

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Wisconsin vs. Baylor: NCAA Tournament Second Round Picks
Tyler Wahl #5 of the Badgers and D'Mitrik Trice #0 with Aleem Ford #2. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

The No. 9 seed Wisconsin Badgers took out the North Carolina Tar Heels the last time out. Now, they will face the No. 1 seed Baylor Bears for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Baylor opened as the favorite at the best betting sites, can Wisconsin cover or upset the Bears?

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears

Sunday, March 21st, 2020 – 2:40 PM ET at Hinkle Fieldhouse

Teams Records

Wisconsin Badgers (9): 18-12
Baylor Bears (1): 23-2

Stakes of the Matchup

On Sunday, the Round of 32 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament (aka the second round) starts with eight games that constitute half of the second-round games. For the 2020-2021 season, 347 college basketball teams played, and only 32 have a chance of winning the championship. Of all the second-round NCAA Tournament matchups, arguably the most compelling is Sunday’s matchup between Wisconsin and Baylor.

Baylor is one of four number one seeds in the tournament, and throughout the season, they looked like they were going to be ranked as the number one overall seed. That honor went to Gonzaga, who finished the regular season with an undefeated 26-0 record. BU started the season with a 17-0 record, and unlike Gonzaga that mainly played cupcakes, BU played in the second toughest conference in college basketball this season, according to basketball analytics website KenPom. Arguably Baylor should be the number one seeded team in the tournament, only Gonzaga has shorter odds to win the National Championship.

Wisconsin is unlike Baylor as they finished the regular season with an 18-12 record winning “only” 60% of their games. While the Big 12 was the second-strongest conference this season, the Big Ten, where Wisconsin plays, was the strongest of all 32 conferences this season. In my opinion, it is doubtful that Baylor would have lost only two games if they had to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Purdue at least twice.

According to KenPom’s ratings, Wisconsin is the 12th strongest team in the country. With 68 teams in the tournament, Wisconsin should not have been disrespected by being seeded as a ninth-seeded team. The question for Sunday’s game is if Wisconsin can keep the game close against Baylor and possibly win.

March Madness

How Wisconsin and Baylor Match Up

Baylor predictably is heavily favored as they have been all season. In fact, of the 25 games that the Bears have played this season, the Bears have been favored in each game. Baylor is essentially like a Democrat running for office in New York City or a Republican running for office in Wyoming, they are always favored to win. What is shocking is that Baylor is favored by only 6.5 points. I believe that even 6.5 points are too generous a spread for BU, as UW presents matchup problems.

The Badgers are aptly named this season as they badger their opponents on defense. Wisconsin had the 13th best adjusted defensive efficiency this season. Baylor’s strength is their offense that is the 3rd most efficient in the country. Additionally, UW is a slow-tempo team as they played at the 27th slowest tempo in the country this year. For NCAA tournament underdogs, slow-tempo teams are well equipped to win as they can limit the number of possessions, which increases the chances that they can get lucky and win.

Prediction

Good arguments can be made for either side of Sunday’s game from a betting perspective. Baylor should win Sunday’s game and possibly the national championship. If the Bears were to win, chances are they will easily cover the spread as they have an average scoring margin of +18, the second-best in the country. However, despite all the overwhelming evidence of Baylor’s strength, I like Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Badgers have a plausible chance of winning and screwing up everybody’s brackets more than Oral Roberts did. Wisconsin could easily have had a better record this season in a separate conference and would have been a 2 or 3 seed in the tournament. They have a strong defense that could plausibly beat Baylor, or at least keep the game close. That is why I like the UW +6.5 spread and for them to win outright as +215 moneyline underdogs.

College Basketball Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review)

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.