NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Wisconsin is coming off a tough home loss to Ohio State. Bo Ryan’s team has slipped up a few times already this year, but the Badgers are always a tough team to beat with their disciplined style of play. Minnesota lost its best player early in the year, but Tubby Smith has done a great job keeping this team motivated. Let’s take a closer look at this Big Ten matchup.
Jordan Taylor is the leader of this Badgers team. Taylor started the season slowly, but he has scored in double figures in ten straight games. He is one of the best point guards in the country, and his decision making is tremendous. Wisconsin is a team that shoots a lot of shots from beyond the three-point arc. They shoot 35.6% as a team, and almost everyone on this team is capable of knocking down an open three. Wisconsin lacks a true low-post presence, but the Badgers do rebound the basketball pretty well because their guards crash the boards well.
Bo Ryan’s teams always control the ball and the tempo extremely well. Wisconsin plays solid defense as evidenced by their allowing just 49.8 points per game this year. No team in the nation allows fewer points per contest than the Badgers. Wisconsin is extremely difficult to beat if you get behind early, because this team knows how to take the air out of the ball and knock down free throws to seal it.
Tubby Smith has taken a lot of heat over the years, but I think he is a pretty good basketball coach. When the Golden Gophers lost Trevor Mbakwe earlier this year most thought their season was basically finished. Smith has rallied the team nicely, and they are certainly still in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Golden Gophers have won five of their last seven games. Ten guys on this team average at least ten minutes per game, so the team has plenty of depth. There is no stand out scorer, as Rodney Williams leads the team with 10.5 points per game. Julian Welch is the team’s best outside shooter, and he is knocking down 45% from three-point range this year.
Offensively, the Golden Gophers are a pretty efficient team. Minnesota shoots it at 47.5% from the floor as a team. Defensively, they have improved quite a bit as the season has gone along. The Golden Gophers do a great job keeping opponents off the offensive boards. Minnesota is giving up just 63.3 points per contest this season.
Expect this game to go right down to the wire. Both defenses should show up and play very well here. I think the Badgers win a very close one.
Prediction: Wisconsin 58 Minnesota 57
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