Big Ten Battle in Madison: Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers

Minnesota Golden Gophers at #15 Wisconsin Badgers
Kohl Center – Madison, Wisconsin
Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Net
Opening Line: Wisconsin -10
Current Line: Wisconsin -9 1/2
Opening Total: 114
Current Total: 116
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -500 / Minnesota +400
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -500 / Minnesota +400

Ryan Evans and Wisconsin host Minnesota Tuesday night. The Badgers are 9.5 point favorites.

On January 25, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were 15-5 and looked to be in good shape for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. However, February has not been kind to the Gophers as they have gone 2-7 including a current 4 game losing streak. Minnesota lost at Indiana 69-50 Sunday to fall to 17-12 and 5-11 in conference. It doesn’t get any easier for the Gophers as they travel to Madison to take on the 21-8 Wisconsin Badgers who are #15 in the country. Badgers are in fourth place in the Big Ten at 10-6, a game ahead of Indiana and Purdue. The top four teams get first round byes in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. The Badgers have gone 3-3 in their last 6 games, alternating wins and losses. Wisconsin upset Ohio St 63-60 in Columbus Sunday.

Minnesota leads the series against Wisconsin 94-86 but trails in Madison 53-33. The Badgers have won 2 games in a row against the Gophers including 68-61 in overtime in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Minnesota is coached by Tubby Smith. The Gophers have wins over Bucknell, South Dakota St, DePaul, Indiana St, Virginia Tech, USC, Central Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois and Nebraska. Minnesota has losses to Dayton, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa twice, Purdue, Michigan St twice, Ohio St, and Northwestern.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have wins over Wofford, Bradley, BYU, Green Bay, UNLV, Milwaukee, Nebraska twice, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana, and Penn St twice. Wisconsin has losses to North Carolina, Marquette, Iowa twice, Michigan St twice, Michigan and Ohio St.

Minnesota is outscoring opponents 67-64 this season. The Golden Gophers are shooting 46.4% from the field, including 35.5% from 3 point range. Minnesota makes 68.8% of their free throws. The Gophers average 34.5 rebounds a game, and have a rebounding margin of +3. Minnesota averages 15.4 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 5 blocks and 7.4 steals a game. Minnesota opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field including 34.2% from 3 point range. Minnesota is forcing  13.2 turnovers a game.

Forward Trevor Mbakwe was the leading scorer and rebounder for Minnesota but he is gone for the season with a leg injury. Rodney Williams averages 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks a game. He leads the team in scoring, steals, rebounds, and blocks. Julian Welch is averaging 10.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists to lead the team, and 1.1 steals a game. He shoots 43.4% from 3 point range. Austin Hollins averages 8.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Ralph  Sampson III averages 7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 blocks a game.  Forward Maurice Walker is questionable with a knee injury, but hasn’t played yet this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring opponents 64-52 this season. The Badgers are number one nationally in points allowed and in the top 6 in both opponent’s field goal percentage and opponent’s 3 point percentage. Badger opponents are shooting 38% from the field, and 28.1% from  three point range. The Badgers are shooting 42.6% from the field, and 35.8% from 3 point range. Wisconsin makes 73.6% of their free throws. The Badgers average 34.4 rebounds a game, with a rebounding margin of +2.9. Wisconsin averages 11.7 assists, 9 turnovers, 5.3 steals, and 3.7 blocks a game. Wisconsin forces 11 turnovers a game.

Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor averages 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Taylor leads the Badgers in scoring, assists, and steals.Ryan Evans averages 10.7 points, 7 rebounds to lead the team, 1.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks a game. Jared Berggren averages 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1 steal7, and 1.7 blocks a game. He leads the team in blocks, and is shooting 37.6% from 3 point range.  Ben Brust averages 8 points, and 2.2 rebounds a game. The top 9 scorers for the Badgers all shoot over 28% from 3 point range.

Wisconsin is 14-12 ATS and the total is 12-14 this season. Minnesota is 12-13-1 ATS and the total is also 12-13-1 this season. The Golden Gophers are 4-9-1 ATS as an underdog, and in road games against teams with winning home records, 10-23-1 as a road underdog, 7-17-1 after a straight up loss, 7-19-1 as an underdog of 7-12.5 points, 7-20-2 against teams with winning records, 1-4 overall, and in Big Ten games, 3-14 as a road underdog of 7-12.5 points, and 1-10 in Tuesday games. The Badgers are 9-4 ATS as a home favorite of 7-12.5 points, 8-18 in Tuesday games, 2-6 overall and in Big ten games, 1-4 after a favorite and after a cover, 1-5 as a home favorite, 1-6 in home games, and 0-5 after a straight up win.

Although Wisconsin has alternated wins and losses in their last 6 games, Minnesota has been even worse losing 5 straight. I think Wisconsin will have too much at home and should win and cover the 9.5 point number.

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