(12) Oregon vs (5) Wisconsin
Time: FRI, 3:30 PM CT (TBS)
Spread: WIS -1.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Wisconsin Badgers are ranked No. 21 in the nation and finished its season 23-10 with a 14-6 mark in Big Ten play. It collides with #12 Oregon in the first round, and the Badgers are slight 1.5-point favorites over Oregon. Oregon compiled a 23-12 record this season with a 10-8 record in the Pac 12. The over/under is set low at 116.5 total points for this game according to NCAA oddsmakers at 5dimes, and it will tip off Friday at 3:30 PM (CT) on TBS.
Wisconsin is not a heavy favorite in this matchup despite drawing a #5 seed. The Badgers closed it season by winning four of its final five, but it lost 55-67 to Michigan State in the Big 10 tournament. Wisconsin is a superb defensive team, ranking top-10 in the nation in holding opponents to just 61.4 points per game, hence the reason for the low over/under in this game. Wisconsin averages just 69.1 points itself but still boasts a positive-7.7 point differential.
The Badgers are led by Ethan Happ who averaged 17.5 points and 10.1 rebounds to go along with a team-best 4.6 assists, as well. D’Mitrik Price and Brad Davison each added 11 and 10 points, respectively, and Wisconsin is a good shooting team: 45.6 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three. It does, however, struggle at the line, which could play a factor in what is expected to be a close game. The Badgers shot just 64.9 percent from the line, and Happ is part of the problem as the team’s worst there—a putrid 46 percent free throw shooter.
Wisconsin also only attempted 642 threes all season, so it is not that reliant on the triple, though Trice and Davison can both knock them down. Happ only shot five threes all year and is not a threat from behind the arc, though he does shoot 53.1 percent from the field as a very efficient scorer on the interior. The 6’10 forward has improved every season at Wisconsin, since playing a prominent role as a freshman and sophomore. Now in his junior season, he is doing everything better—except hitting those free throws. How much of a role could that play in a game with just a 1.5 point spread? We’ll see.
Oregon was supposed to be headlined by Bol Bol, son of NBA legend Manute Bol. But Bol sustained an injury that has left him off the court since early December. He will not play in this tournament, and he is expected to be a high NBA draft pick, putting an end to his career at Oregon after just nine games played. Instead, Oregon was reliant on a trio of Louis King, Payton Prichard, and Paul White. All three averaged double figures for the Ducks, who tallied a 70.5 point per game average as a team.
Oregon is one of the better defensive teams in the tournament, ranking No. 17 nationally and holding opponents to just 62.9 points per game. It used that defense to defeat Washington badly in the Pac-12 title game, holding Washington to just 48 points and winning by 20. In fact, Oregon has held four of its last five opponents under 60 points, and it ended the season with eight straight wins. So, the Ducks are hot, and Wisconsin has some liabilities that can be exploited: Could this be another 12 over 5 upset? It is one of the most likely to happen.
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):