The Wisconsin Badgers take to the road Friday night and head to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 5 Ohio State. The Badgers have won three straight since dropping their first conference road game to Rutgers before the Finals/Holiday break.
Wisconsin is led by junior center Nate Reuvers, who is averaging 14.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in a breakout season. As in years past, Wisconsin is well-balanced, with six players averaging at least eight points per game.
Also per usual, the Badgers boast one of the most efficient defenses in the country, currently ranking 25th in the nation in the adjusted defensive efficiency metric per Kenpom. The Badgers are surrendering a very good 0.82 points per possession on defense.
Ohio State comes into the game as one of the premier teams in the nation. The Buckeyes have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the country but have yet to get to the top spot in the rankings.
Regardless, Chris Holtmann boasts one of the deepest lineups in the nation with a true star in big man Kaleb Wesson, who averages 14.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. has also been a key cog, unexpectedly turning himself into one of the best knockdown shooters in the country. He has drained 25 of 51 three-point attempts on the season.
The Buckeyes are coming off of a hard-fought loss to an undervalued West Virginia club in Cleveland last week. Ohio State put up an anemic 0.81 points per possession in the game and shot just 31.2 percent from the field.
Ohio State is a nine-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 124.
Are The Badgers Back?
Greg Gard’s team was expected to struggle this season but is showing signs of righting the ship. Whether that is a function of the schedule or actual growth remains to be seen.
Regardless, the Badgers are 4-1 both against the spread and straight up in their last five games, and Gard is 4-2 against the spread against Ohio State in his last six games facing the Buckeyes.
On the season, the Badgers are 6-7 against the spread overall but just 2-4 ATS away from home. The Badgers have also gone under in seven of 13 games this season.
Time To Buck Up
The Buckeyes have been significantly more stable this season as far as betting goes than their counterparts. Ohio State is 11-2 straight up and 10-3 against the spread on the season with a sparkling 8-1 record ATS at home.
They are 3-2 in the over/under in their last five games and 5-0 over/under in their last five games against Big Ten opponents.
Pick and Prediction
Ohio State has gone from being the darling of the college basketball prognosticators to a team that some wonder if it can be trusted. Each time the Buckeyes get everyone back on their side, they seem to fall flat.
The loss to West Virginia isn’t terrible, but it was basically a home game for Ohio State. The Minnesota loss is basically inexcusable, but they are conference rivals.
Wisconsin’s recent success can easily be attributed to its recent schedule. A recent big win over Tennessee was when the Volunteers were without their best player for the game.
This has the making of a 60-55 game, so the under should be the play. A nine-point spread is something, considering the tempo that both of these teams play at. However, the Badgers have yet to earn anyone’s trust, and a conference road game is not a place to look for a turnaround in trend. Lay the points, play the under.
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