Baylor vs. Wisconsin Betting Odds, Pick: How to Bet This NCAA Tournament Matchup
Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Vital.
Baylor vs. Wisconsin Odds
|Moneyline||-270 / +220|
|Time | TV||Sunday, 2:40 p.m. ET | CBS|
No. 1 seed Baylor was not treated to an easy march to the Final Four. That path becomes even thornier with Wisconsin easily dispatching North Carolina to advance to a second-round matchup with Scott Drew and the Bears.
In order to reach the tournament’s second weekend, Baylor now has to hurdle a Badgers team that is endlessly experienced, well-coached, ranked in the top 10 by KenPom, and coming off a red-hot shooting performance.
On top of that, Wisconsin is a program with a history of this kind of upset, knocking off top-seeded Villanova after winning an 8-9 game in 2017. Head coach Greg Gard and senior leader D’Mitrik Trice remember that game well and hope to repeat the feat on Sunday.
Baylor resembles those Villanova teams in many ways, with a cadre of guards creating 3-point chances and games won on the defensive end of the floor.
Do the Bears have the right recipe to send the Badgers home?
When Baylor Has the Ball
The Bears have the third-ranked offense in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency this season, thanks in large part to 3-point shooting. The Baylor roster is likely the best shooting team in the nation, currently making 3-pointers at the highest percentage in Division I.
Six of the eight players in Baylor’s rotation have taken more than 40 attempts from long range this season and made better than 38% of those attempts.
The Bears put the ball into the hands of a playmaking guard and dare teams to help off of a shooter on the perimeter.
All-American Jared Butler is the primary penetrator, but Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, and Adam Flagler are all capable slashers as well. Even Matthew Mayer can create off the bench when guarded by slower bigs.
When help comes, Baylor’s guards are quick-thinking and look for the open teammate. That often leads to an unguarded jumper from a capable shooter. If the help comes from the interior, Flo Thamba, Mark Vital and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua are adept at finding an opening for a dump-off pass, leading to dunks and bunnies at the bucket.
Wisconsin likely joins the host of teams that have looked to force Baylor to beat them with jump shots.
All season long, the Bears have shot well enough over defenses to negate that strategy. In Baylor’s two losses this season, the Bears have combined to shoot just 12-of-54 from long range, a putrid 22%. Simply hoping Baylor goes cold is more dream than game plan, but it’s been the lone saving grace for defenses opposing Baylor.
The Bears will look to attack based on matchups. When Nate Reuvers is on the floor, Baylor will make the Badgers stop dribble penetration. Against Wisconsin’s best lineup, center Micah Potter likely will need to survive in pick-and-roll defense to keep Baylor contained and out of the paint.
When Wisconsin Has the Ball
Few teams match up well with Baylor’s defense, but Wisconsin’s offense seems particularly ill-suited to score against the Bears. Greg Gard runs Bo Ryan’s patented “Swing” offense, which is predicated on side-to-side ball movement.
Drew’s Bears are focused on keeping the ball to one side of the floor and preventing teams from reaching open space in the middle of the court. A determined Wisconsin team could likely overcome that schematic disadvantage against many teams. Against Baylor’s defenders, that is less likely.
So much of what Wisconsin looks to do offensively is driven by Trice or Brad Davison coming off of ball screens into space to create a shot for themselves or a teammate.
Baylor has the best on-ball perimeter defender in college basketball in Mitchell, and the other Baylor guards are all well above average stoppers as well. Mitchell should be locked on to Trice all game, making his life difficult.
On the interior, Potter will have a purely height-based advantage over Mark Vital, but that hasn’t stopped the undersized Vital from playing some of the best defense in the sport this season.
Potter typically can score by pulling big men out to the perimeter with him, though Baylor’s bigs are all mobile and capable of stretching to the arc with him.
Wisconsin will be facing superior athletes playing a scheme almost designed to stop its offensive goals.
It’s hard to see the Badgers developing any kind of rhythm in the half-court, and as one of the slowest tempo teams in the nation, the Badgers won’t be able to supplement their half-court scoring with easy transition looks.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The formula for a Wisconsin win is viable. Slow the game down and limit possessions.
The Badgers never turn the ball over, so they’ll find a look at the rim every time down the floor. If Wisconsin takes and makes a high number of 3s while Baylor goes cold, the Badgers are every bit in this game.
That’s a plan that makes sense on paper but less so in practice. Baylor is more athletic and more skilled all over the court.
The hope for a cold-shooting night by the Bears is direr given their recent shooting. Baylor has made just 28% from distance in its last two games, leaving it due to a heat up.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, has already been hot. The Badgers have made 32 of their last 67 shots outside the arc, a boiling 48% over a 3-game stretch.
Given the caliber of defenders it’s about to face, the smart money says Wisconsin cools off and struggles to score against Baylor.
I like the Bears to cover somewhat safely here and think there’s value in betting under the Badgers team total of 65.5.
Picks: Baylor -6.5 (up to -7.5) | Wisconsin Team Total Under 65.5 (down to 63.5).