Odds & Pick for Northwestern vs. Wisconsin Basketball: Target the Total in Madison
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Davison (right).
- Wisconsin hosts an average Northwestern offense on Wednesday, as the Badgers look to keep pace with the top of the Big Ten.
- Greg Gard's team plays at one of the slowest paces in college basketball, while the Wildcats' offensive efficiency is poor in conference play.
- BJ Cunningham translates that into betting value and has his eyes on the total.
Northwestern vs. Wisconsin Odds
Wisconsin looks to defend its home court on Wednesday when it takes on unranked Northwestern.
After a torrid start to the season, the Wildcats have completely fallen off a cliff, losing their last five games in Big Ten play.
The last time they were in action, they completely got blown out by Iowa at home, allowing the Hawkeyes to put up 1.33 points per possession. Can Northwestern end this dreaded run against a top-10 Wisconsin team?
Despite having one of the most experienced senior-laden teams in the country, the Badgers have had an up-and-down season. Wisconsin has two losses in Big Ten play and cannot avoid a third this early in the schedule if it wants to win the conference title. A game like this is one it has to win handily.
When Northwestern has the ball
The Wildcats’ offense doesn’t take the full brunt of the blame for their five-game losing streak, but it does deserve some.
Northwestern is only scoring 1.01 point per possession in conference play this season and has shot the ball at an average rate, according to Big Ten standards. The biggest issue for the Wildcats is they aren’t crashing the offensive glass effectively at all.
Northwestern is dead last in the Big Ten in offensive rebound rate and has only grabbed 36 offensive rebounds in its last five games.
It also is second to last in the Big Ten in getting to the free-throw line, which isn’t going to bode well against a Wisconsin defense that rarely fouls. All of this puts a ton of pressure on the Wildcats to make a high percentage from the field. That is not a scenario you want to put yourself in against this Wisconsin defense.
The Badgers have one of the best defenses in the conference because they are the most fundamentally sound team. Wisconsin gives up only 0.99 points per possession in conference play and allows the lowest free-throw rate in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin completely shut down Rutgers in its last game, holding the Scarlet Knights to only 0.84 points per possession and 2-of-19 from 3-point range. It’s going to be difficult for an average shooting team like Northwestern to get past one of the best defenses in the conference.
When Wisconsin has the ball
The Badgers’ offense, quite frankly, hasn’t lived up to expectations in Big Ten play. They came into conference play as a top-10 scoring unit in terms of efficiency on KenPom. However, since Wisconsin has only managed 1.03 points per possession in Big Ten play and put up only 0.94 against Rutgers last Friday.
The main issue for the Badgers is they haven’t been shooting the ball very well from inside the 3-point arc. Wisconsin is shooting a dismal 46.2% from 2-point range, which won’t get things done, especially since 62.8% of their field goal attempts are of the 2-point variety.
The good news for the Badgers, though, is they will be facing the worst defense in the Big Ten in this one.
The Wildcats are giving up a Big Ten-worst 1.14 points per possession and are struggling in every defensive category.
However, they’ve really struggled to defend the perimeter over their five-game losing streak. Northwestern allows their opponents to shoot over 42% from deep, which is absurd.
One of the strengths of this Wisconsin offense is the 3-point shot, so I have a hard time seeing how Northwestern is going to slow down Wisconsin’s offense.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Wisconsin plays at a snail’s pace, ranking 338th in tempo, per KenPom. Given how bad Northwestern’s defense is, the Badgers should be able to control the tempo at home.
Additionally, given Northwestern’s struggles on offense and the lack of second chance and free throw opportunities, I have a hard time seeing them scoring over 65 points.
I only have 133.76 points projected for this game, so I think there is some value on the under at 136.5 points or better.
Pick: Under 136.5 points or better