Wisconsin vs. Purdue Odds & Pick: Total Too Low, Even for Slow-Paced Big Ten Teams

Wisconsin vs. Purdue Odds & Pick: Total Too Low, Even for Slow-Paced Big Ten Teams article feature image
Credit:

G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Trevion Williams.

  • Wisconsin and Purdue are two of the slowest-paced teams in the Big Ten.
  • With the regular season winding down, they're jockeying for position in the tournament.
  • Shane McNichol explains why he's backing the over and the Badgers on the road.

Wisconsin vs. Purdue Odds


Wisconsin Odds +2
Purdue Odds -2
Moneyline +110/-139
Over/Under 129
Time | TV Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Odds as of Monday evening and via FanDuel

The Big Ten has delivered a litany of great games this season , and while Tuesday is headlined by a showdown between Illinois and Michigan, don’t sleep on this Badgers-Boilermakers matchup.

This game features two teams ranked in the top 15 of KenPom’s adjusted efficiency metric, and both boast top-15 defenses. It will be part bare-knuckle brawl and part chess-match, with a very tight point spread and a tantalizingly low total.

Pace will be a major factor

Purdue and Wisconsin are two of the slowest, most methodical teams in the Big Ten. Both rank among the 100 slowest teams in terms of possessions per game, according to KenPom. In Big Ten play, the Boilermakers and Badgers have both become particularly patient on the offensive end. These two teams have recorded the longest offensive possessions on average in the conference, with the Badgers leading the league at almost 20 seconds per trip.

Wisconsin tries to use its slow pace to take advantage of extra possessions. The Badgers accrue those possessions by dominating the turnover battle. Only Iowa turns the ball over at a lower percentage than Wisconsin. Even if the Badgers only win the turnover battle by two or three, Greg Gard wants his team to maximize shot quality every time down the floor.

Purdue’s slow pace is more about how Matt Painter’s offense attacks the defense. The Boilermakers are focused on getting a paint touch for Trevion Williams or Zach Edey.

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The Boilers win from inside, the Badgers from outside

Painter’s offense this season is driven by success in the paint. Williams and Edey lead Purdue in usage percentage, with Williams posting the second highest in the nation. When Purdue has the ball, every action is designed to move through the big man on the block or high post. Painter is very clever at building movement around a big man.

Against a defense as experienced and strong as Wisconsin, that could be a fool’s errand. Williams might have the upper hand against Micah Potter or Nate Reuvers in isolation, but expect the Badgers to selectively double-team the post to force a poor-shooting Purdue team to get hot.

On the other end, Wisconsin does its damage in direct contrast to Purdue — by raining threes over the defense. Only Iowa scores more of its points in Big Ten play from three-point range than Wisconsin, with every single Badger rotation player ready and able to pull the trigger from distance.

That could be especially advantageous on Tuesday, as Purdue has struggled to run shooters off the three-point line — only nine teams in the nation have allowed a higher percentage of their opponents’ field goals to come from beyond the arc (per Hoop-Math.com). The Boilers have survived for the most part, with Big Ten opponents shooting 25 long-range attempts per game but making only 32.9 percent of those tries.

Wisconsin looking for defensive luck

Although Purdue has been particularly bad at finding three-point shooters, it’s been Wisconsin getting torched by bombs from outside of late. Defense in modern college basketball often comes down to forcing opponents into the wrong shot selection and hoping their shooting doesn’t bury you. In recent weeks, the Badgers have felt the brunt of some bad luck.

Wisconsin’s last four opponents have combined to shoot an average of 46 percent from outside the arc, with three of those teams eclipsing 40 percent. The Badgers limited Illinois (without Ayo Dosunmu) to just nine attempts on Saturday, but the Illini hit 56 percent of those attempts.

Purdue could be the perfect team to reset Wisconsin’s luck. The Boilermakers have hit just 30.7 percent of their 3s in conference play. Based on past performance of individual players, it’s more logical to conclude that the Boilers simply aren’t a good shooting team than to wait for some regression magic.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

It’s not a surprise to see a total of just 129 in this game between two slow-paced Big Ten rivals. If either team has a hot shooting night, that mark should be reachable. The Badgers and Boilers have combined to play six games against the other teams among the Big Ten’s slowest (Indiana and Maryland). Those games combined for total scores of 131, with half going over and half staying under after 40 minutes.

One of the games to stay under after regulation, however, was Wisconsin’s double-overtime win against Indiana. That game featured the most possessions of any Badger game this year, but was the Badgers’ slowest all season in terms of possessions per minute. Add in the overtime scoring from that game and the average total in Purdue and Wisconsin’s games against fellow slow teams jumps to over 136. Overtime in this game is certainly possible, with a point spread of just two and both teams jockeying for position in the Big Ten standings.

When push comes to shove, this game will come down to Wisconsin’s ability to execute and shoot the ball. The Badgers are going to be able to find three-point looks in this game. If they are the right shots and the Badgers can convert, Wisconsin should be in position to steal a road win and push this game over the total. The Badgers have shot better than their 35.7 percent season average from long range just twice in their last six games and have topped 40 percent just once in 13 games since January 12.

Pick: Wisconsin (+110) and Over 129 or better

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