Wisconsin vs. Oregon Betting Guide: Has NCAA Tournament Love For Ducks Gone Too Far?

Wisconsin vs. Oregon Betting Guide: Has NCAA Tournament Love For Ducks Gone Too Far? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ethan Happ and Payton Pritchard

#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Oregon: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Wisconsin -2
  • Over/Under: 116.5
  • Location: San Jose, CA
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about a one-bid Pac 12 conference. That would have been the first time in the past 25 years that we saw a power conference send just one team to the dance.

That all changed when the Oregon Ducks went on a run to win four games in four days to clinch an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Wisconsin never had to worry about such a sweat, as the Badgers have been safely in all season long.

Despite the drastically different paths these two teams have taken, it seems like the Ducks have become the popular pick to keep it rolling on the West Coast, with 52% of the money taking Oregon.

Oregon’s Defense Presents Problems

Dana Altman-coached teams are always tough in a tournament setting because of how often he will switch up his defenses. The Ducks are one of the eight teams that run zone in over 30% of their possessions; they do so in just under half of all possessions.

Oregon is also one of only three tourney teams that has pressed in over 25% of its possessions, per Synergy. (Florida State and VCU are the two others). What makes Altman’s defense even more difficult to face is his strategy to press and then drop into a zone before morphing into man — all on the same possession.

What’s even more impressive is how successful Oregon’s defense has been in all three of those schemes based on its Points Per Possession national ranks:

  • Man: 91st percentile
  • Zone: 92nd percentile
  • Press: 85th percentile

Oregon has a tremendous defense no matter how you spin it and a lot of it has to do with Altman. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider the Ducks lost 7-foot-2 Bol Bol (21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg) for the season in December.

However, if you dig a little deeper into the Synergy data, you will find that the Ducks struggle defending cutting motion, an area where Wisconsin excels. They are also vulnerable in the interior, which would make sense after losing a towering force like Bol.

Wisconsin is poised to exploit both, as the Badgers are an excellent cutting team and boast one of the best post-up offenses in the country — thanks to the craftiness of Ethan Happ. No single player on the Ducks can contain Happ on the block.

The Badgers also don’t turn it over, which will help against the Oregon pressure. And they also have shooters that can hurt the zone.

Don’t Forget About Wisconsin’s Defense

The Oregon defense has undoubtedly played great this year, but it may be benefiting from some 3-point luck.

The Ducks give up a ton of looks from deep but held opponents to 29.4% on the year (10th-best in D-1). The reason I think that’s fluky is that’s usually not a strength of a Dana Altman defense. There could be some regression coming, but that’s hard to predict for one game.

And don’t forget about Wisconsin, which has one of the most efficient defenses in the entire country. The Badgers are also excellent at the rim. Wisconsin’s defense ranks in the top 10 in Effective FG%, Adjusted Efficiency and 2-point percentage.

They have allowed 0.806 points per possession, which ranks 10th-best nationally. Oregon’s offense has gone into severe droughts throughout the season and you should see a few extended ones on Friday.

The biggest X-factor will be Happ’s free throw shooting. The senior has regressed significantly from the stripe and is shooting sub-50% on the season. He appears to simply have no confidence up there. And teams will foul him early in possessions to get the ball back.

So much of Wisconsin’s offense runs through Happ, and he will be especially key in regards to exposing the two weak areas of the Oregon defense. In a game that shouldn’t have many possessions between two excellent defensive teams, Happ’s unavailability late if Oregon goes to Hack-a-Happ or a bunch of missed free throws could swing this game and/or cover.

Still, this is a complete line over-reaction to Oregon’s recent success. I drove the Ducks’ bandwagon to end the season, but this line would’ve been six a few weeks ago. I grabbed Wisconsin at a PK earlier in the week but would still jump on it at -2.

Yes, the game is in San Jose, which might give a minimal advantage to Oregon, but nothing material. Ultimately, in what should be a slugfest, Happ will be the difference.

In regards to the total, the under is certainly worth a look in another matchup of two absolute snails in the South region. Per KenPom, Oregon and Wisconsin rank 328th and 332nd in Adjusted Tempo, respectively.

Stuckey’s Picks: Wisconsin up to -2, Under 118

Our Projected Odds: Wisconsin vs. Oregon

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Wisconsin -3
  • Total: 121.5
  • Proj Score: Wisconsin 62.5 | Oregon 59.5
  • Win Probability: Wisconsin 62.1% | Oregon 37.9%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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