Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick
Wisconsin Badgers (23-9 SU, 16-15-1 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (26-6 SU, 22-10 ATS)
When: Saturday, March 16, 2019 – 1 p.m. ET
Where:United Center, Chicago Illinois
Point Spread:WIS +5 / MSU -5 (Bookmaker)
Total: O/U 129.5
Last Time Out: Wisconsin beat Nebraska 66-62 in the Big Ten quarterfinals; Michigan State beat Ohio State 77-70 in the Big Ten quarterfinals
Scouting the Badgers:
The Badgers held on late Friday when D’Mitrik Trice hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to play. Because they struggled, the Badgers were unable to cover the 8.5-point spread set for them. The Badgers now find themselves one game away from playing for a Big Ten championship. The Badgers have already locked in a spot for the Big Dance, but with how they have performed in the conference tournament, the question starts to become, “Can we move up to a higher seed?” The Badgers are projected to be a 4-seed by Joe Lunardi, but with a win over a projected 2-seed, they could make a case to move into the 3-seed line. Of course, they must win this game, which they have failed to do against the Spartans in quite some time.
Scouting the Spartans:
The Spartans controlled the game against the Buckeyes for the most part throughout, putting them away late for a 7-point win. Because their margin of victory was just 7, they failed to cover the 11-point spread that was set in most sportsbooks. The Spartans have seen their rivals, Michigan win the last two Big Ten titles and will be hoping to end their streak by advancing to Sunday’s final.
Head to Head:
As mentioned, the Spartans have dominated the Badgers head to head, winning 6 consecutive games dating back to 2016. However, it was the Badgers who beat the Spartans in the 2015 Big Ten championship game. This game is slightly different, as it is a semifinal, but nonetheless, the Badgers have had success against the Spartans on the biggest stage.
Notable Betting Trends:
In these same 6 games where Michigan State has not lost, both teams are dead even in terms of against the spread, each going 3-3 in this span. Both sides also have played exceptionally well after a win, with Wisconsin posting a 16-6 record straight up and Michigan State is 22-3 straight up. Against the spread, Wisconsin is 13-8-1 after wins and Michigan State is 18-7.
The play of Ethan Happ. Happ has had a fantastic season and currently leads the Badgers in points, assists, rebounds, field goal percentage, and steals. However, he had an absolute terrible game in the Big Ten quarters. aHe shot 2 of 4 in this from the field, tallying 4 points. He did have 7 rebounds, but his 7 turnovers were at times very costly. Happ is a major part of this offense and will need to play much better if the Badgers are going to advance.
Wisconsin will Cover if:
They slow down Cassius Winston. Winston has been the best player for this Spartans and is averaging 18.9 points and 7.6 assists per game. He most recently put up 18 points on the Buckeyes of a 4 for 7 day from the field. Half of these points came from the free throw line as he went a perfect 9 for 9. When the Badgers faced Winston in the regular season, he torched them for 23 points while shooting 9 of 17. Look for the Badgers to commit more help on Winston in hopes of frustrating him and force another Spartans player to beat them.
Michigan State will Cover if:
They can keep the Badgers off the boards. The Spartans come into this game with the 8th best rebounding numbers, averaging 40.9 a game. On the flip side, they allow 28.5 boards per game, which ranks 33rd. Against the Buckeyes, the Spartans were way below their average, only grabbing 24 boards, but only allowing 20 boards. Since Ethan Happ averages 10.2 boards per game, he will need to be the main guy to box out so that the Spartans can win the boards.
Matt’s Pick for Wisconsin vs. Michigan State:
MyBookie has the Spartans as a 4.5-point favorite which is small considering how good they are. Even though Ethan Happ is a monster for this Badgers team, the Spartans have a lot of weapons and will cover to advance to the Big Ten finals on Sunday.