College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Wisconsin vs. Northwestern (Tuesday, Jan. 18)

College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Wisconsin vs. Northwestern (Tuesday, Jan. 18) article feature image

Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

  • Northwestern hosts Johnny Davis and Wisconsin after a stunning upset over Michigan State on the road.
  • Davis is one of the top candidates for the Wooden Award and has guided the Badgers to critical Big Ten wins.
  • Alex Hinton breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Odds

Tuesday, Jan. 18
9 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Wisconsin Odds
-102o / -120u
Northwestern Odds
-102o / -120u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Wisconsin's last loss came against Ohio State, a 73-55 decision in Columbus. On Saturday, Wisconsin avenged that loss with a 78-68 win over the Buckeyes in Madison. It improved to 14-2 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play. The Badgers are also 4-0 in 2022 and moved up to No. 8 in the AP Poll. Next, the Badgers will head to Evanston to battle the Northwestern Wildcats.

Northwestern comes in at 9-6 overall and 2-4 in conference. However, the Wildcats will be flying high after upsetting then-No. 10 Michigan State 64-62 in East Lansing. Northwestern will be looking to pull off another upset against a top 10 opponent. However, Northwestern has lost the last six meetings to Wisconsin and the last four at home. Will Wisconsin be able to extend both of those streaks this time?

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin was picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten in the preseason media poll. Its surprising start goes hand in hand with the surprising breakout of guard Johnny Davis.

The sophomore has taken advantage of his expanded role and has increased his points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks this season. He is averaging 21.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 steals this season. At this point, it should not be a surprise anymore as he has played himself into the National Player of the Year Discussion.

Fifth year senior Brad Davison is also averaging a career-high 15.1 points while shooting 35% from deep. Up front, forward Tyler Wahl is averaging 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds to go along with 1.1 blocks. The senior is also making 60.6% of his two-point attempts. Sophomore center Steven Crowl is averaging 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Wisconsin is a team that likes to slow the game down, limit possessions, and does not beat itself. Wisconsin commits 8.2 turnovers per game, second-fewest in Division 1, and is 245th in Adjusted Tempo. The Badgers rank 35th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and is even better on the defensive end, ranking 28th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.

Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern was without its best player Pete Nance and lacking depth in the frontcourt against MSU, but that did not stop it from pulling the upset. Junior center Ryan Young stepped into the starting lineup for the first time this season, and he finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Northwestern head coach Chris Collins may want to consider starting Young more. The Wildcats are 5-0 when Young has scored 18 points in his career.

Junior guards Chase Audige had 14 points while Boo Buie had 12 points and four assists. However, beating Wisconsin would be a lot easier with Nance back in the lineup. The senior forward leads the team in points (17.1), rebounds (7.7), and blocks (1.6) while shooting 51% from the field and 45.7% from three. As of this writing, Nance's status is unclear for Wisconsin. Without him, the Wildcats will need big performances from Young, Audige, and Buie, along with Ty Berry and Robbie Beran. 

Northwestern is also a team that protects the ball well. It commits the fifth-fewest turnovers in Division I at 9.1 per game and also ranks eighth nationally with 18.1 assists per game. Northwestern plays a little faster than Wisconsin, but it still ranks 154th in Adjusted Tempo. The Wildcats are 45th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, however they could use some improvement on the defensive end.

Northwestern is 75th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and 99th in Defensive Rating. The Wildcats are allowing 67.1 points per game for the season but it are allowing 76.5 in Big Ten play, third-worst in the conference.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Betting Pick

Northwestern will play in front of its student section for the first time since March of 2020. This feels like a sell high spot on a Wisconsin team coming in hot entering what will be a rowdy environment. However, if Northwestern is without Pete Nance again, it will have a hard time pulling out a win.

Michigan State has played a smaller lineup this season, which made it easier to withstand the loss of Nance and backup forward Elyjah Williams and win the rebounding battle. However, Wisconsin has six-foot-nine Tyler Wahl and seven footers Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt. Wisconsin will have the edge on the interior along while being the better defensive team.

I'm also expecting a bounce back performance from Johnny Davis after having a season-low 14 points against the Buckeyes. Northwestern will have a hard time containing him.

With the spread at -2, you essentially need Wisconsin to win, or you could take the ML at -130 for safety. Either way, I will be backing the Badgers as a short road favorite.

Pick: Wisconsin -2

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