Penn State vs. Wisconsin Odds, Picks: Tyler Wahl Gives Badgers the Edge

Penn State vs. Wisconsin Odds, Picks: Tyler Wahl Gives Badgers the Edge article feature image

Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Wahl (Wisconsin)

Penn State vs. Wisconsin Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 17
8:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
Wisconsin Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Penn State travels on the road to Madison to take on a reeling Wisconsin team.

Penn State got things back on track last week, demolishing Indiana, 85-66, at home to get to 3-3 in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions have improved a lot in their second season under Micah Shrewsberry, but they only have one true road win on the season. They also have some serious flaws on the glass and getting to the free-throw line.

Wisconsin has hit a three-game skid that culminated in a 63-45 loss at Indiana over the weekend. The Badgers were 11-2 and had cracked the top 25 before the losing streak, but now they are just looking for something to turn things around.

That something may just be the return of Tyler Wahl, who is their best player and has missed the last three games. That would explain the losing streak for the Badgers.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Offensively, Penn State is one of the more odd teams in college basketball.

It does an unbelievable job taking care of the ball, as it's the No. 1 team in the country in turnover percentage allowed. But it has the fourth-lowest offensive rebounding percentage and the second-lowest free-throw rate in the entire country.

That means the Nittany Lions' offense is incredibly reliant on not only getting high-quality shots, but making them, as well. The Nittany Lions' shot selection is actually quite terrible, ranking 324th, per Shot Quality.

However, they are a top-10 shotmaking team, but usually when a squad isn't getting high-quality shots, it's not getting second-chance opportunities. Plus, the Nittany Lions aren't getting to the line, so they are due to regress.

Image via Shot Quality

Penn State does have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, though. As you can see above, it does an incredible job at not only forcing teams into difficult shots, but also, it defends the rim at an incredibly high rate.

The one area the Nittany Lions do tend to struggle defensively is defending the 3-point line. Penn State is allowing 33.4% from behind the arc (163rd in the country, per KenPom), is 219th in PPP allowed on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and is 196th in PPP allowed on off-the-dribble 3-pointers.

Wisconsin tends to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, so that is an area where the Nittany Lions could be exploited.

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Wisconsin Badgers

It's pretty clear for Wisconsin that not having Wahl is major factor, considering he is being used on 31.1% of its possessions (18th-highest rate in NCAA, per KenPom) and is taking 28% of its shots when on the floor.

Wisconsin – Tyler Wahl is expected back Tuesday via @journalsentinel

— College Fantasy Basketball (@NCAAFantasyHoop) January 16, 2023

Wahl is obviously a major factor in why Wisconsin has gone 0-3 in the last three games, but he is not the Badgers' main 3-point shooter.

The Badgers' offense is designed to play inside-out, as it has the second-highest post-up frequency in the country. However, 41.2% of their shots come from behind the 3-point line.

Against Indiana on Saturday, Wisconsin went an abysmal 5-of-24 from beyond the arc when normally they shoot over 36% from 3.

With Penn State being very average at defending the 3-point line, the Badgers should be able to get a lot of open looks. Ultimately, it will just come down to whether they can make their shots.

Much like Penn State, the Badgers hardly ever turn the ball over (7th in turnover percentage allowed), they don't crash the offensive boards (347th in offensive rebounding percentage) and they rarely get to the free-throw line (324th in free-throw rate).

They also do not usually get great looks, ranking 234th in shot selection, per Shot Quality.

Defensively, Wisconsin has been very good, which is a staple of Greg Gard's teams. The Badgers are 24th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, 26th in forcing teams into bad shot selection and 51st in PPP allowed at the rim.

They are also a top-50 defensive rebounding team, so Penn State shouldn't have too many second-chance opportunities.

Penn State vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick

The return of Wahl is going to be massive for Wisconsin, considering he is its best player and the one who takes the most shots.

Penn State's offense is flat out due to regress. The fear for the Nittany Lions is if you're not getting high-quality looks, you aren't getting second-chance opportunities. And if you aren't getting to the free-throw line, what happens when the shots suddenly don't go in?

While Penn State's defense has been elite this season, it's been very average at defending the 3-point line, which is where Wisconsin takes a high number of its shots.

So, I like the value on the Badgers at home at -1.5 (FanDuel), especially with Penn State playing just its fourth true road game of the season.

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