NCAA Tournament First Round: Wisconsin Badgers (23-8 SU, 17-12 ATS) vs. Wofford Terriers (26-8 SU, 16-11-2 ATS), 2:50 p.m. EST, Friday, March 19, 2010, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jackonsville, Fla. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wisconsin -10/Wofford +10
When most people look at this first round NCAA tournament matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Wofford Terriers, it may not appear to be much of a contest. People who aren’t familiar with Wofford may think this will be an easy game for the Badgers. But that’s not the case at all. Wofford is a tested team this season and is plenty of capable of winning this game. If Wisconsin doesn’t bring it’s A game, Wofford will and there will be an upset.
Wofford faced five BCS conference teams this season and went 2-3 in those games. The Terriers lost by three at Pittsburgh, won by three at Georgia, lost by 14 at Illinois in a game that was much closer than that up until the final minute, lost by 12 at Michigan State, and won by seven at home over South Carolina. The Terriers are plenty familiar with the Big Ten, having faced Illinois and Michigan State this season, so it won’t be a big deal for them against Wisconsin.
The Terriers run a disciplined offense in which they try to get easy baskets and open 3-point attempts by using as much of the shot clock as possible. They are led by Noah Dahlman, who averages 16.8 points per game. To get here, the Terriers won the Southern Conference tournament championship with a 56-51 win over Appalachian State. They have won 13 games in a row and 19 of their last 20.
Wisconsin lost its first game in the Big Ten tournament to Illinois, but the Badgers had done enough in the regular season to warrant a No. 4 seed. Their best wins this season have come over Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Duke and Maryland. All of those quality wins, other than the Maryland win on a neutral court in the Maui Invitational, came at home in Madison.
Wisconsin has multiple offensive weapons, but the Badgers play a similar style to that of Wofford, using as much of the shot clock as possible to find quality shots and then relying on strong defense to win at the other end of the court. Trevon Hughes, Jon Leuer and Jason Bohannon are the main weapons for the Badgers. Hughes is the point guard but he also leads the team in scoring with 15.4 points per game. He likes to drive to the basket, but he can hit outside shots or pull up for a mid-range jumper in the lane as well. Leuer is a versatile big man who can post up down low or step out and hit 3-pointers if he is left open. Bohannon is a pure shooter who relies on outside jumpers. None of those three guys can be left open at all, as all three of them are shooting at least 39 percent from 3-point range. Jordan Taylor and Keaton Nankivil are also offensive weapons for the Badgers, but there isn’t much depth after that.
Both of these teams are very experienced with more than two years of experience per minute played, but Wofford has the edge with an average of 2.40 years of experience per minute. The Terriers also have 15 road/neutral wins as compared to just seven for the Badgers.
Wisconsin only averages 8.9 turnovers per game this season and is forcing 12.2 per game, while Wofford is averaging 11.9 turnovers per game and forcing 14.3 per game. The Terriers are shooting 35 percent from 3-point range and holding opponents to 31 percent, while Wisconsin is making 36 percent of its 3-pointers and holding opponents to 33 percent. The Badgers are shooting 44 percent from the field and their opponents are shooting 42 percent, while Wofford is identical with 44 percent shooting and 42 percent field goal defense.
Wofford is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games against the Big Ten. Wisconsin is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games following an ATS loss and 0-4 ATS in its last four neutral site games as a favorite.
Ryno’s Pick: I absolutely LOVE Wofford here to cover the spread.