West Region Second Round Handicapping Picks: #15 American Eagles vs #2 Wisconsin Badgers

2014 NCAA Tournament
West Region – Second Round
Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
#15 America Eagles vs #2 Wisconsin Badgers 
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 12:40 pm Eastern, TV: truTV
Opening Line: Wisconsin -12 1/2
Current Line: Wisconsin -13 1/2
Opening Total: 123 1/2
Current Total: 122
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -1250 / American +800
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -1300 / American +850

Wisconsin is a 13.5 point favorite over American in the West region second round Thursday in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin is a 13.5 point favorite over American in the West region second round Thursday in Milwaukee.

Heading into the conference tournaments, the 26-7 Wisconsin Badgers were in the discussion for one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. However, an 83-75 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals ended those hopes. The Badgers will have to settle for the #2 seed in the West region. Wisconsin opens NCAA tournament play Thursday in Milwaukee against the #15 seed American Eagles. The winner will play either #7 seed Oregon or #10 BYU in Saturday’s third round. Wisconsin and American have never played each other before.

American is 20-12 overall and finished second in the Patriot League at 13-5 behind Boston University. The Eagles would upset BU 55-36 on the road in the Patriot League Championship to earn their spot. American has never won an NCAA tournament game in two appearances. They are making their first trip to the dance since back to back appearances in 2008 and 2009.

Wisconsin tied with Michigan State at 12-6 for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. The Badgers have lost 2 of their last 3 games after an 8 game winning streak. Wisconsin is making their 16th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

American is coached by Mike Brennan in his first year at the school. The Eagles have losses at George Mason, at Ohio State, at Mount St. Mary’s, at Columbia, Brown, at St. Mary’s (CA), at San Francisco, at Loyola (MD). Colgate, at Lafaayette, at Boston University, and Bucknell. American has won 5 of their last 6 games including 3 straight. The Eagles have key wins at Bucknell, Holy Cross three times, and Boston University twice. American is 4-0 ATS and all four lined games have gone under the total.

American is outscoring teams 64-59 this season. The Eagles are #317 out of 351 teams nationally in scoring but #8 in points allowed. American is shooting 49.4% from the field and 38.2% from 3 point range. The Eagles are #7 in field goal percentage and #43 in 3 point shooting. American is shooting 71% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 41.1% from the field and 31.4% from 3 point range. The Eagles are #43 nationally in 3 point defense. American averages 30.1 rebounds per game and opponents are averaging 26.3 per game. The Eagles are #339 in rebounding and #5 in rebounds allowed. American averages 15.11 assists, 14 turnovers, 6 steals and 3.4 blocks per game.

American guard Jesse Reed averages 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Center Tony Wroblicky averages 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1.9 blocks per game. Guard Darius Gardner averages 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Guard John Schoof averages 11.4 points, 3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Kyle Kager, Marko Vasic, Yilret Yiljep and Charlie Jones will also get significant minutes.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Indiana, Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State at Nebraska, and Michigan State. 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 twice, Illinois twice, Purdue twice. Michigan State, Minnesota twice, at Michigan, Indiana and at Penn State. The Badgers are 17-16 ATS and the total is 18-14 this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 74-65. The Badgers are #48 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 45.8% from the field and 37.3% from 3 point range. The Badgers make 74.4% of their free throws. Wisconsin is #30 in free throw shooting nationally. Badger opponents are shooting 43.2% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 33.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.2 per game. The Badgers average 12.1 assists, 8.1 turnovers, 5 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 4.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.

Forward Frank Kaminsky averages 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Guard Ben Brust averages 12.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Forward Sam Dekker averages 12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.   Guard Traevon Jackson averages 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Guard Josh Gasser averages 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Forward Nigel Hayes averages 8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig,  and George Marshall will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

American is 4-0 ATS overall, 6-0 in neutral site games, 6-1 in non-conference games, and after a straight up win.

Wisconsin is 6-1 ATS in non-conference games, 4-1 in neutral site games, 5-2 in NCAA tournament games, and 1-4 overall.

American runs the Princeton offense. Wisconsin is much better at offense but both teams hang their hat on defense. This will be a very low scoring game and American has the defense to keep it close for awhile but the Badgers pull away late.

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