Believe it or not, the Northwestern Wildcats have NEVER been to the NCAA Tournament. But this year they would seem to have a chance under coach Chris Collins, and a road victory over the Wisconsin Badgers would go a long way toward helping them argue the case. Of course, Wisconsin will have a lot to say about that, as these teams line up at 6:30 PM ET at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Big Ten Network will be televising this one, and while that’s happening, BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to place real-time wagers through the state-of-the-art software of Live Betting Ultra.
Northwestern is 18-6 straight-up and 15-6 against the basketball pointspread, and they blew a golden opportunity for a victory at home last time out, losing a late lead to Illinois. The marquee victories have not been many; they did beat Indiana a couple of weeks ago, but with the Hoosiers slipping, that doesn’t have a lot of luster.
Wisconsin is the kind of team that still has its eyes on a #1 regional seed in the Big Dance. They are 21-3 straight-up (11-10 ATS) and have won eight straight games for coach Greg Gard, rising to #5 in the Coaches poll and #7 with the Associated Press. They did have a close call last time out, beating Nebraska only 70-69.
In the NCAA basketball odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports
, Wisconsin is the double-digit favorite:
Wisconsin Badgers -11.5
Northwestern Wildcats +11.5
Over 125.5 points -110
Under 125.5 points -110
One of the things that might make this game a little more problematic for Wisconsin is the fact that they are not the most explosive three-point shooting team in the nation, hitting only 35.1% from beyond the arc. And Northwestern is particularly stingy in two-point territory, yielding only 42.3% field goals, the eighth-best figure in the country.
What hurts the Wildcats here is that they will be missing their best defensive player, Scottie Lindsay, who is out with mononucleosis. He leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, and it is relatively hard to make that up. BetAnySports patrons know that Northwestern does not carry the fastest pace in the world, and even though they are very judicious in handling the ball (turning it over only 15.9% of the time), they are going to find that Wisconsin will slow the game down on them a little. And a huge question as we enter this contest is whether Collins’ team has enough size at its disposal to deal with the offensive rebounding prowess of the Badgers, who are able to rebound in this 37% of the time.
This is also a well-balanced Wisconsin team, with veteran players (for seniors start). Ethan Happ gives them a bona fide presence on the inside, averaging 14.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, and Nigel Hayes, the 6-8 forward, had a big game against Nebraska, with 20 points. One area where Northwestern may or may not be able to exploit an advantage is free-throw shooting, where they are ranked 14th in the country at 76.8%, compared to a below-average Wisconsin team (66.3%). In all likelihood, the game would have to be close for something like that to really take hold. Also keep in mind that Wisconsin has lost only to Creighton, North Carolina and Purdue, so a slip-up here is not likely.
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