NCAA basketball on Thursday night and we will see the Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. The game has a start time of 9:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Vegas odds have the Badgers listed as 8 point favorites, while the total sits at 135.5.
Analysis: The Minnesota Golden Gophers come in with a 16-8 mark overall, but they are just 5-6 within the Big 10. Minnesota has won just 1 of their last 4 games overall, but that one win was in their last game -- a 66-60 home win over Indiana. The Gophers have averaged a solid 73.8 ppg on 44.9% shooting for the year. 4 players averaging double figure for the Gophers, led by Andre Hollins and his 14.5 ppg. His Brother Austin is second on the team in scoring at 12 ppg, while leading the team in rebounding with 5.8 rpg. Defensively, the Gophers have been decent, allowing 67.9 ppg on 42.2% shooting. The Gophers have struggle vs the Big 10 going 6-14-1 ATS in their last 21 conference games.
The Wisconsin Badgers are ranked 21st in the nation with a 19-5 record overall, but they have struggled some in the Big 10, going just 6-5 in their conference games so far. Wisconsin is not a great offensive team, but still at 73 ppg they have averaged more per game than any season in the Bo Ryan era so far. A big part of their offense is the 3 point shot and they hit that well at 37%, which is 75th in the nation. The Badgers are led by Sam Dekker, who averages 13.5 ppg, while he also leads the team in rebounding with 6.0 rpg. Ben Brust is 2nd on the team in scoring and makes a living from behind the arc (38.1) and from the charity stripe (92.6%). Defense is what has made up the Badgers for years and this year is no exception as they have allowed just 63.1 ppg, which is 31st in the nation.
Pick: Big surprise here, but I will look to the under in this one. Very hard to see this one being that high scoring. I know that Wisconsin has been looking to score more this year, but recently this team has reverted back to teams of old, where they have played low scoring games. Wisconsin games have averaged just 124.2 ppg and It has been a combination of weaker scoring and stronger defense as they have averaged just 64.2 ppg on 39.4% shooting, while on defense they have allowed just 60.6 ppg on 40.9% shooting. Now on defense I expect the Badgers to be even more focused in this one, considering they allowed 81 points the last time these teams met, which is only the 2nd time all year they allowed 80+ points and it was the last time that they allowed more than 65 points in a game. The Golden Gophers have struggled on offense of late, averaging just 60 ppg (Regulation) in their last 3 games and while their defense has stepped up of late, allowing just 65 ppg (Reg) in their last 5 games and that should continue vs a struggling Badgers offense. 69-61 is about right for this one.
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