College Basketball Odds, Pick & Preview for Iowa vs. Wisconsin (Thursday, Jan. 6)
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
- Wisconsin and Iowa are both coming off massive victories over Purdue and Maryland, respectively.
- While Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray won't necessarily match up head-to-head, the two rising Wooden Award candidates will be on the same court.
- Shane McNichol breaks down where the value lies from a betting perspective.
Iowa vs. Wisconsin Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
When this week began, Thursday’s match-up between Wisconsin and Iowa didn’t seem very notable. It looked like two good teams jockeying for tournament-worthy wins and seeding in the Big Ten Tournament, which is great, but not out of the ordinary,
Then Monday night, the best player from each of these teams put on a show.
First, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis posted 37 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in a road win over third-ranked Purdue.
The same night, Iowa’s Keegan Murray dropped 35 points, along with eight rebounds and three blocks.
Davis and Murray now each rank in the top three in the nation in scoring and have emerged in the fight for Big Ten Player of the Year and National Player of the Year.
They’ll tangle Thursday night with a critical conference win on the line.
Fran McCaffery’s Iowa teams have become cliche at this point in his tenure. Year after year he builds a team with an efficient, potent, low-mistake offense and a defense that is average to mediocre.
No Iowa team has ranked higher in defensive efficiency than offensive efficiency since 2013, with some of the gaps between the two stretching to laughable margins.
This year, Iowa’s offense is fiery once again. The Hawkeyes turn the ball over on the lowest rate of possessions in the nation and have the fewest percentages of their shots blocked in all of college basketball.
Iowa is committed to getting a good look at the rim every time down the floor.
Many of those looks come from Murray, who leads the nation in scoring at over 24 points per game. His versatility to score in the post, off the dribble or with a jumper makes him a nightmare in the half court or in transition. His athleticism makes him particularly difficult to slow down in open space and Iowa’s offense takes advantage.
The Hawkeyes have the seventh-shortest average offensive possession time in the country.
Things are completely different on the defensive end. Iowa’s defensive possessions rank among the 30 slowest in Division I. McCaffery uses a deep bench and a ton of different pieces to try to slow teams into stops, but it’s not where Iowa is strongest.
When I previewed Wisconsin’s game against Purdue earlier this week, I mentioned how this Badger team came into this season feeling like the unremarkable Wisconsin teams of the last few seasons.
Davis’ emergence as a star brightens things, but I still didn’t buy in, picking Purdue to cover a double-digit spread.
The Davis who played Monday — spurring the upset win over Purdue — is a different level of game-changer, especially when his teammates are shooting the ball well and providing additional spacing. Davis has evolved into a dynamic scorer who can find opportunities at every level of the defense.
Wisconsin has struggled when there isn’t a second scoring option. One Badgers loss came with Davis sidelined, but in the other, a blowout at the hands of Ohio State, the other Badgers shot a combined 4-of-19 from long range and dropped 31 points.
Iowa vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
The styles of these two teams will make for a very interesting pairing on the court. These are the two teams — out of all of Division I’s 358 programs — turning the ball over at the lowest rate.
This game will be a chess match on each team’s offensive end, with whichever squad finds the better looks at the rim likely coming out on top.
So far, according to the data from Shot Quality, Iowa has excelled at that this season, ranking fourth in the nation in their metric that weights where each shot comes from and who is taking each of those shots.
On the road in Madison, it’s harder to see the Hawkeyes living up to their prior success in that area.
Wisconsin has more capable defenders to toss at Murray than Iowa has in store for Davis. It’s hard to expect Davis to repeat Monday’s performance, but now the sky is the limit.
In front of the home crowd at the Kohl Center, Davis and the Badgers are the pick to cover.
Pick: Wisconsin -1.5 (Play up to -4)
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