Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Odds
|Moneyline||-225 / +185|
|Time | TV||Sunday, 7 p.m. ET | BTN|
|Odds as of Sunday afternoon and via BetMGM.|
The Wisconsin Badgers travel to Evanston, Ill., to face the Northwestern Wildcats for the second time this year. The first bout ended in a comfortable win for Wisconsin on Jan. 20.
Both teams are on quite a slide right now: Northwestern has lost its last 12 games and Wisconsin has dropped three of its last four. To be fair to Wisconsin, it has lost recent games to teams that are just superb, and probably valued lower than where they should be considering the incredible depth of the Big Ten this year.
Does Northwestern have any fight left this season? It’s hard to imagine either team continuing their respective plummets much longer. The key to identifying the outcome of this one is to find out which team has the stronger chance to break out of its slump first.
Wisconsin Badgers | 15-8 (9-7 Big Ten)
The Badgers are led by their senior guard, D’Mitrik Trice, who is putting up very respectable numbers: 13.5 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, and 4.0 assists per game. The Badgers are eight-deep in their rotation, all of whom average at least 15 minutes per game.
Wisconsin is 4-4 against the spread in away games this season. Two of those losses came at Michigan and at Illinois. A veteran-led team like Wisconsin has fared well on the road this season with a 4-3 record in the Big Ten.
Northwestern Wildcats | 6-13 (3-12 Big Ten)
Northwestern is led by a very impressive sophomore guard, Chase Audige, who is putting up 13.3 ppg, 3.6 rbp, and 1.9 apg. He has been a bright light for a struggling Northwestern team. The Wildcats started 3-0 in the Big Ten before their current slide.
Northwestern is 4-4-1 against the spread at home, which is not a very promising statistic for Wildcat backers.
The Big Ten is exceptionally tough this year. While Wisconsin is ranked 21st, KenPom has the Badgers as the 15th-best team in the nation. Regardless of their inconsistencies for much of the season, I would be inclined to agree. Even Northwestern is ranked fairly high at 68th, per KenPom.
Wisconsin has a lock-down defense (10th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom) and an above-average offense that ranks 43rd in adjusted offensive efficiency. Wisconsin is one of the slowest-paced teams in the nation, but averages only nine turnovers per game, which is second in the nation. The Badgers take a long time on offense, but tend to get better looks while also tiring out the opposing defense by playing long into the shot clock. This also makes their superb effort on the defensive end significant in that it provides a troublesome task for an already worn-down team trying to slice through an impenetrable defense.
Teams like Northwestern, which already struggle offensively (180th in offensive efficiency), tend to surrender large runs later in the game, which is why I am expecting this one to be a fairly comfy win for the Badgers.
Another glaring issue for Northwestern is that it is 253rd in fouls per game at 18.6 (per Team Rankings). This is significant because Wisconsin has a very strong free-throw shooting team, averaging 75.2% from the stripe. Also worth mentioning is that during Northwestern’s 12-game slide, it has given up an average of 77.8 points per game to opposing teams.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This game is a prime opportunity for the Badgers to break out of their recent slide. I tend to lean on teams in late-February and March that have a lot of experience, and the five leading scorers for the Badgers are all seniors. They’ve been around the block more than most teams, and that type of maturity, despite their inconsistency sometimes this season, usually levels out to wins late in the season.
I am fully on board with them handling Northwestern on both ends of the floor and coming away with a decisive victory.
Pick: Wisconsin -5.5 (Play to -7.5)
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