Big Ten College Basketball Picks: #9 Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

#9 Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Williams Arena – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: BIg Ten Network
Opening Line: Wisconsin -1
Current Line: Wisconsin -2 1/2
Opening Total: 135 1/2
Current Total: 135 1/2
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -140 / Minnesota +120
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -145 / Minnesota +125

Wisconsin looks to end a 2 game slide at they travel to Minnesota Wednesday night.
Wisconsin looks to end a 2 game slide at they travel to Minnesota Wednesday night.

The Wisconsin Badgers opened up the season 16-0 but have lost 2 straight games. The Badgers look to get back on track as they travel to the rival 14-5 Minnesota Golden Gophers Wednesday night. Wisconsin is in fourth in the conference with a 3-2 record, and Minnesota is tied for fifth with Purdue at 3-3.

Minnesota leads the series 95-88 against Wisconsin, including 62-32 in Minneapolis. Each team won a narrow game at home against the other last season. The Badgers won 45-44 in Madison, and the Gophers won 58-53 in overtime in Minneapolis. Minnesota makes the trip to Madison February 13.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Indiana and at home against Michigan Saturday 77-70. Wisconsin has key wins over St. John’s in Sioux Falls, SD, Florida, at Green Bay, Bowling Green, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis and West Virginia both in a tournament in Cancun, at Virginia, Marquette, Milwaukee, at Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois. Despite the two losses last week, Wisconsin stayed in the top 10 of the AP poll at #9. The Badgers are 11-7 ATS and the total is 10-7 this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 76-63. The Badgers are #29 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 47.4% from the field and 39.2% from 3 point range. The Badgers make 72.8% of their free throws. Wisconsin is 67th or better nationally in all three shooting categories. Badger opponents are shooting 41.8% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 34.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.1 per game. The badgers average 12.8 assists, 8.3 turnovers, 4.8 steals and 3.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 8.8 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 4.4 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.

Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker averages 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, Forward Frank Kaminsky averages 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Ben Brust averages 13.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Guard Traevon Jackson averages 11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Guard Josh Gasser averages 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Forward Nigel Hayes averages 6.8 points and 2.4 blocks per game. Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig,  and George Marshall will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Minnesota is coached by Richard Pitino. The Golden Gophers have losses to Syracuse and Arkansas in the Maui Invitational, at home to Michigan, at Michigan State and at Iowa 94-73 Sunday. Minnesota has key wins at home over Lehigh, Montana, Florida State, South Dakota State, Purdue and Ohio State. The Gophers have road wins over Richmond and Penn State. Minnesota is 6-8-1 ATS and the total is 6-7-1 this season.

Minnesota is outscoring teams 75-68 this season. The Golden Gophers are shooting 43.7% from the field and 33.5% from 3 point range. Minnesota is #23 nationally in free throw shooting at 75% from the line. Gopher opponents are shooting 41.6% from the field and 31.4% from 3 point range. Minnesota averages 36.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.2. The Golden Gophers average 14.2 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 4.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.7 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 5.5 steals, and 4.4 blocks per game.

Minnesota guard Andre Hollins averages 16.2 points, 4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Guard Austin Hollins (not related) averages 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Guard Deandre Mathieu averages 11.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Guard Malik Smith averages 9.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Forward Oto Osenieks (from Latvia) averages 7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Center Elliott Eliason averages 6.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Joey King and Maurice Walker will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Forward Charles Buggs is questionable with an ankle injury but he averages less than 5 minutes a game.

Wisconsin is 5-0 ATS in Wednesday games, 4-1 after failing to cover, and 0-4 after a straight up loss. The road team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 games in this series. The under is 5-2 in this series recently and 4-1 in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is 2-5 ATS after a straight up loss, and against teams with winning records, 3-9-1 overall, 2-7 in Big Ten games, 1-4-1 at home, and 1-5 in Wednesday games. The Golden Gophers are 6-2-1 ATS in the last 9 against the Badgers.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are comfortable playing in the mid 70’s but Wisconsin is a better defensive team. Both are coming off disappointing losses over the weekend. The Badgers have played a very difficult schedule and i like them to get back on track with the road win over the border rival Golden Gophers.

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