Michigan Wolverines vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Pick

Michigan Wolverines (5-13) +17, 125 O/U at Wisconsin Badgers (15-2)
-17, 125 O/U, Kohl Center, Madison, Wis., 7 PM Eastern, Tuesday

by Badger of Predictem.com

The struggling Michigan Wolverines will try and pull off a miracle
when they travel to Madison to play the No.11-ranked Wisconsin
Badgers in a Big 10 Conference basketball showdown that is the
opening game of Super Tuesday on ESPN.

The Wolverines will need a miracle because the Badgers have a 102-6
record at the Kohl Center in the six years that Bo Ryan has been the
head coach at Wisconsin (138-18 overall at Kohl Center since it
opened 10 years ago). Thats a 94.4 percent winning percentage, the
best in all of college basketball during that span.

Wisconsin comes into the game off of a strong week against mediocre
competition. The Badgers beat Penn State on the road, 80-55, early in
the week then finished the task with a 62-50 victory over
Northwestern at home Saturday. Although not statement wins by any
means, the two Ws were enough to move the Badgers up six spots in
the AP top-25 rankings.

Theres no other way to put this other than to say the Wolverines are
bad. First-year head coach John Beilein is struggling to find players
to fit into his system, and it shows. Michigan has won just one game
in their last eight overall, and that was a 78-68 victory over
Northwestern on January 12th. Last week the Wolverines dropped both
of their contests, a 75-57 clunker at Illinois and an encouraging
68-60 loss to Iowa at home last Saturday.

These two teams already have played once this season, a 70-54 victory
by the Badgers on the road at Michigan back on January 2nd. The
Badgers covered the 8.5-point spread in that game, and the 124 game-
ending total came in just under the closing total of 126.5.

With the earlier game as a guide, oddsmakers opened Tuesdays game
with the Badgers as 17-point favorites and a 125-point total.

This years version of the Badgers features a balance offensive
attack. In their five Big 10 games, the Badgers have had five
different leading scorers with all of them going for over 20 points.
Against Northwestern it was forward Marcus Landry, whose career-high
21 points led the way. The game before it was senior guard Michael
Flowers, who had 23 points in the win over Penn State.

Point guard Trevon Hughes (team leading 13.2 ppg) and Flowers give
the Badgers a strong backcourt, while center Brian Butch (7.7 rpg,
12.9 ppg), Landry (11.1 ppg) and Joe Krabbenhoft (8.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg,
team leading 2.9 apg) provide the frontcourt punch. Overall the
Badgers score just 71.3 points per game (140th), but they shoot a
strong 47.1 percent from the floor (49th).

Michigan is statistically a bad team on offense. Their 65.4 points
per game average is 249th in the NCAA (only 286 teams in Div. 1), and
their shooting percentages arent much better (41 FG% – 282nd; 32.5 3-
point% – 260th). Guard Manny Harris is the teams best weapon and
best all-around player (15.9 ppg, 3.1 apg), but the Wolverines have
10 players that average double digits in minutes, as Beilein has
thrown just about everyone including the team manager on the floor to
try and get some offense generated.

The Wolverines offense will have a hard time against the Badgers
defense, as the Badgers are 3rd overall in all of the NCAA allowing
just 54.1 points per game. They closeout well and get hands up on
shots as they allow opponents to shoot just 38.2 percent from the
floor (17th) and 31.7 from 3-point land (50th).

Michigans defense is weak as well, allowing 71.3 points per game
while teams shoot 45 percent from the floor (255th) and 40.6 percent
from behind the arc (330th).

Michigan is even a bad team to bet on, despite getting the huge
spreads in their favor. The Wolverines are just 3-13 ATS, with two of
those covers happening in Big 10 play. The 17-point number will be
their largest spread since they failed to cover a 24-point number
versus Duke on December 8th (lost 95-67). The Wolverines are 7-2-1
ATS in their last 10 games played on Tuesday though.

Wisconsin is not typically a strong team to bet on (win with defense = win ugly), as their 7-7 ATS record would indicate. The Badgers have
only covered in two of their five Big 10 games thus far (Michigan and
Penn St.) and failed to cover home games against Iowa and
Northwestern as a large favorite (18-point vs. Iowa won 64-51; 19-
point vs. NW won 62-50).

Both teams are relatively healthy, with just Michigan forward Ronald
Coleman listed as doubtful for the game due to an ankle injury.
Wisconsin forward Kevin Gullikson has been sitting out lately due to
off-the-court issues, but he was buried on the depth chart anyway so
its not a major factor.

Badgers Pick: Wisconsin showed a major weakness in their last game versus Northwestern when they had a hard time scoring on the Wildcats
zone. I fully expect Coach Beilein to have watched the tape, and Im
sure hell throw every zone the Wolverines run at them to try and
repeat the success. Wisconsin is not a great outside shooting team,
so they will struggle to pull away and cover the large number.
Badgers win, but not by 17. Take Michigan and the points.