As usual, the road dogs look like the right college basketball pick for Tuesday’s game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan Wolverines. Let’s take a look at the odds and make an informed pick.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 – 7:00 P.M. ET at Crisler Center
Don’t look now, but we’re taking the road dogs again. How could we not? At press time, these loveable pups are 526-515-26 ATS (50.5 percent) in Division I play. Tuesday’s Big Ten matchup between the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) and the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (10-0 SU, 8-2 ATS) should give us the additional profit margin we need for our college basketball picks. That’s because it’s Wisconsin we’ll be betting on this time.
The Badgers opened as 2-point underdogs, before quickly moving to +3.5, which is lovely because Ken Pomeroy has Wisconsin (plus-25.66 AdjEM) playing at a higher level than the Wolverines (plus-25.05 AdjEM) thus far, and Jeff Sagarin has the home-court advantage pegged at 1.94 points.
These two slowpokes might get in 65 possessions this Tuesday, so let’s see... carry the one... that’s about Michigan –2.34 for a kayfabe spread. In other words, the math says we can make at least a fun-sized bet on the Badgers at +3.5 (–101). That’s some tasty juice right there.
When We Was Fab
Why should we believe the math? Well, old-school handicappers would point at Wisconsin as the “small-market” team in this contest; Michigan is about as brand-name as it gets. Just for funsies, I looked at some of the public money charts you can find on the interwebs, and Michigan appears to have drawn only slightly more action than the Badgers on the young season – although they’ve played 10 games instead of 12, so take that into account.
What about those ATS records, though? Michigan has covered eight of those 10 games at the best betting sites, taking a big step forward in their second year under former Fab Fiver Juwan Howard. Sports Reference has the Wolverines at plus-23.05 on their Simple Rating System, up from plus-17.94 in Howard’s first year at the helm – that’s the highest SRS for Michigan since 1988-89 when they won the national title. Yes, this year’s squad is even outperforming Howard’s early ‘90s version. We must be made to fade these guys.
We Need Some Stinkin’ Badgers
Did we mention Wisconsin is playing even better than Michigan? Actually, there’s some disagreement about that assessment; Sports Reference “only” has the Badgers at plus-20.8 SRS. But this particular metric is called Simple for a reason; it only takes point differential and strength of schedule into account. Pomeroy’s more complex Adjusted Efficiency Margin is the gold standard in this sport – oddsmakers and sharps alike have their eyes glued to that famous blue webpage 24/7.
Having said that, SRS shows Wisconsin taking their own big step forward in their fifth season for head coach Greg Gard, up from plus-15.95 SRS last year. They’re not quite the team that lost the National Championship Game to Duke in 2014-15 (those Badgers check-in at plus-24.61), but no other Badgers team ever put up a plus-20 SRS – that we know of.
The SRS numbers only go back to 1950, so maybe Bud Foster’s champions from 1940-41 did it. Anyway, Wisconsin covered their other game this year as the underdogs, beating Michigan State (–2.5 at home) 85-76, so let’s see if they can do it again. It’s just the right thing to do.
*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.