Wisconsin vs. Duke NCAA Championship Pick: Scoring Trends Indicate Halftime O/U Total Pick

Mark Lathrop

Monday, April 6, 2015 12:19 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 6, 2015 12:19 PM UTC

Wisconsin and Duke made it to the highly anticipated championship game. Who will be the team to win this survival of the fittest contest? Check out what our capper has for your NCAA Championship picks tonight!

Wisconsin and Duke are the last two teams standing, most brackets are busted, and the NCAA basketball championship game is finally upon us on Monday night. It’s the game we’ll all be watching, and sharp bettors will be reserving a little bit of their bankroll for halftime. Last time we looked at differences in conditional 1st and 2nd half scoring trends with my alma mater Eastern Washington University, we came away with a win as the 1st half indicated the second half would go Over. I had predicted the 2nd Half O/U would be 78.5 points, it ended up being 81 points, and with the trend indicator pointing towards an Over bet Georgetown and EWU scored a combined 84 points to line our pockets. I’ve found that Wisconsin’s halftime betting indicator is even stronger.

Coaching styles and systems are one of the most static variables that bettors can consider when making their NCAA Championship pick. Players come and go, but the system remains largely the same. You can follow coaches around NCAA basketball, such as Virginia’s Tony Bennett and his stifling defense, and scoring trends will largely follow. To take it a step further, we can analyze coach’s halftime adjustment trends to find value in O/U totals after taking the first half into account. This conditional data takes at least some variability out of the equation, and if there is an unforeseen event such as an injury to a star player, the bettor has the option to pass on the 2nd half action.

The O/U for Monday night’s tilt is currently set at 140 on the posted NCAA championship odds, with the first half O/U line sitting at 65.5. This indicates the halftime O/U line could be as high as 74.5 points, or higher. Here are the 1H vs 2H scoring trends for the Badgers this year:

2014-15 Wisconsin and Opponent Scoring Averages - By Half




OPP 1H Avg

Opp 2H Avg

1H Total

2H Total







WISC Scoring Increase In 2nd Half with lead (27 Games): -1.00 Point


WISC Scoring Increase In 2nd Half while trailing (7 Games): 13.42 Points

More NCAA Tournament Picks for Wisconsin Badgers vs. Duke Blue Devils

While it is true that Wisconsin has not trailed at half much this season, I’ve uncovered quite a disparity in 2nd half scoring based on 1st half results. When Wisconsin is leading at halftime Bo Ryan puts on the brakes, bleeding the shot clock and keeping possessions to a minimum. After going into halftime with a lead Wisconsin scores an average of 1 point less in the 2nd half. This is significant, especially as 2nd half scoring totals are usually higher than 1st half totals, as teams foul and force their opponents to go to the stripe to gain extra possessions at the end of games. Compare this to when Wisconsin goes to halftime at any kind of deficit - they score an average of 13.42 points higher in the 2nd half! The brakes are definitely off and an over 14 point swing in scoring average indicates to me that this is a coaching tactic, not a random variation. We should be able to expect coaching tactics to continue between games, of course.

NCAA Tournament Pick: The data points strongly towards the following betting axiom: If Wisconsin is behind at half expect the 2nd half to result in 13 or more points than the 1st half (i.e. a strong lean towards the Over). If Wisconsin is leading, expect the 2nd half to result in -1 to 6 points more than in the 1st half (i.e. a strong lean towards the Under).

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