College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (Sunday, January 30)
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Davison (Wisconsin)
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
On the gridiron, Wisconsin and Minnesota square off on an annual basis in one of the oldest rivalries in college football — the battle for Paul Bunyan’s axe.
Hoops may play second fiddle to football in this historic matchup, but there’s no love lost when the Badgers and Gophers meet on the hardwood.
Residue from fiercely contested recruiting battles will surely emerge. For reference, the Badgers’ trio of forwards — Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson — all hail from the land of 10,000 lakes.
It’s rare to see anyone go into the Kohl Center and come away with a win, but Wisconsin let its guard down last Friday against Michigan State. The Spartans handed the Badgers their second home loss of the season, pulling UW back to a first place tie atop the Big Ten leaderboard.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is 2-6, but that record is highly deceptive. The Gophers have been a thorn in the side of opponents all season under first-year head honcho Ben Johnson, who’s building this program on the mantra of grit and toughness.
The Gophers’ Achilles heel — depth — was stretched to the limit last weekend.
Pivotal starters E.J. Stephens and Jamison Battle were out of commission. That left Minnesota strapped for bodies, as little used Treyton Thompson was forced to clock a full 40 minutes.
Buoyed by a lights out shooting display from Payton Willis, the Gophers prevailed over Rutgers at home.
Then, reality set back in against Ohio State on Thursday. Despite welcoming Stephens and Battle back in the fold, the Gophers were bullied up front by the Buckeyes’ immense frontline.
Johnson has garnered serious respect from his Big Ten peers with his inventive coaching schemes. That said, the Gophers’ relative talent deficiency leaves their margin for error in Big Ten play razor thin.
Johnson & Co. figure to be a feisty underdog in certain situations. But is this early Sunday tip the right spot to catch Wisconsin sleeping?
Speaking of snoozing, Johnny Davis did just that in Wisconsin’s road victory over Nebraska on Thursday. Davis was basically invisible in the first half, opting to defer to his teammates (“never graduate All-Star” Brad Davison silenced the feisty Huskers crowd).
Davis did finish with 13 points for the night, but don’t expect another quiet outing from the perennial National Player of the Year front runner.
For all the ink Davis gets nationally, his supporting cast is sneaky solid. Davison is a known commodity — a grizzled vet and a tough shot maker off the ball — while young guns Chucky Hepburn and Crowl headline a burgeoning nucleus of the future.
The other indispensable part is Wahl, whose status was in jeopardy heading into Thursday’s showdown against Nebraska due to an ankle injury. Wahl ultimately played, though logged only 22 minutes and tallied just four points.
He impacted the game in other ways, per usual, but he did not resemble the fully loaded version we’ve seen this season.
Can Johnson find a way to exploit a potentially hobbled Wahl? Or will Wahl feast on the Big Ten’s worst interior defense — per KenPom, the Gophers’ 2-point percentage defense of 55% grades out as last in the league.
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
This game should resemble a vintage Big Ten bar fight — that is, a grueling, low-possession affair where points are at a premium.
Wisconsin is no longer constrained by a traditionally methodical offense. This season, Gard has awarded freedom to his guards to attack in transition and shoot earlier in the shot clock.
However, Minnesota’s crawling pace may force the Badgers back to their old ways. The Gophers’ last two games clocked 55 and 56 possessions, respectively, a ploy to conserve energy and depress the talent gap.
Johnson will need to replicate that blueprint here if the Gophers want to pull off the upset in Madison.
Pick: Under 136.5
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