Yesterday in my breakdown of the PAC-12 conference game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Cal Bears, I noted that home-court advantage has been basically non-existent this season without having any fans in the stands. With most teams having only played a handful of games, we have already seen Duke lose at Cameron Indoor, Kansas lose at the Phog, and Kentucky lose at Rupp.
So, when I saw that the Cal Bears, a sneaky good team at home last season, were only small underdogs against a very talented Arizona State team, I wondered if their home court advantage was being valued a bit too highly. The sharps were all over Cal, which is understandable, as home dogs in league play has been a favorite of those of us in the know for decades, but I felt that once the public jumped in and moved the line two full points towards Cal, that enough was enough and that I needed to jump on the other side and back ASU.
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) December 4, 2020
The game played much as I expected it to, as the Bears put up a fight, but at the end of the day, they just didn’t have enough talent to hang with a loaded Sun Devils team. Arizona State shot awful from beyond the arc, or this game would have been a blowout, as Remy Martin and company got to the rim with ease, and they shot 50% from the field despite shooting only 28% from three. Martin was especially good as he was 8-8 on 2-point shots, leading the team with 22-points.
I mentioned in my pick yesterday that I was going to closely monitor home-court advantage this season and that these early season results were going to go a long way into dictating how I bet the rest of the year in this pandemic environment that we have never seen before, with no fans in attendance. The best handicappers can adjust on the fly, and you know that eventually, the books are going to adjust as well. Staying ahead of this curve is going to be crucial as we hit conference play. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Milwaukee, where the Marquette Golden Eagles host the Wisconsin Badgers.
- Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) at Marquette Golden Eagles (2-1)
- Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: FS1
The Marquette Golden Eagles host the Wisconsin Badgers tonight, looking for a signature non-conference win. Marquette is adapting to life without Markus Howard, who led the nation in scoring last season. The Golden Eagles are coming off of their first loss of the year in their last game, a 70-62 loss to Oklahoma State, and would love to get a resume-building win over a highly ranked Wisconsin Badgers team.
Wisconsin vs. Marquette
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) December 4, 2020
For Wisconsin, this game will be the biggest test of the season so far for the Badgers, as they are 3-0, but they have played a very soft schedule. Things are about to pick up for the Badgers, though, as after this game, they play Louisville and Northern Iowa before jumping into Big 10 play with a trip to the Breslin Center to play Michigan State. If you are wondering just how good the Badgers are this season, you are about to find out.
Wisconsin Badgers (3-0)
Going back to last season, the Badgers have won eleven straight games. Wisconsin finished last season as the hottest team in the Big 10 and one of the hottest teams in the nation. We didn’t get to see what they were capable of in the NCAA tournament, but they were a sexy pick to get to the second weekend and beyond. Wisconsin was a road warrior team last year as they had true road wins at Ohio State, at Michigan, at Tennessee, at Penn State, and at Indiana.
This year, the Badgers bring basically everything back from that team that caught fire late last season, and many are looking at Wisconsin as the favorites in an absolutely loaded Big 10 conference. While the competition has been admittedly weak this year, the Badgers are hammering opponents as they have won all three of their games by double-digits, and their average margin of victory is a whopping 28-points!
Marquette Golden Eagles (2-1)
I have mixed emotions about this Marquette team. While the defense is vastly improved, they aren’t playing the style of offense that we have become accustomed to seeing them play under head coach Steve Wojciechowski. In terms of offensive efficiency, which is a great measure of a team’s true ability to score the basketball, the Golden Eagles finished 14th in the nation last year. In 2018, they finished 32nd. In 2017 they finished 12th. And in 2016, they finished 8th. This year they are currently outside of the top-50 national at 53rd.
The one thing that they had in common during those last four seasons? Markus Howard. Howard was an elite scorer, and so far, Marquette just hasn’t found a way to replace his production. Those struggles were evident in the loss to OK-State, as they jacked up an absurd 29 three-pointers, missing 21 of them, and only shot 33% from the field in the loss.
Senior guard Koby McEwan did his best Markus Howard impression as he launched nine three-pointers, but unlike Howard, who was a sharpshooter from deep, McEwen hit just three of his attempts, and his inefficient 6-15 shooting night was a big reason why Marquette lost.
Who Do I Like?
This line opened up with Wisconsin laying -8.5-points. That was undeniably a bad number. But what it tells me is that the books are quickly adjusting to the fact that home-court advantage isn’t what it used to be. If this were a neutral site game, I could see the Badgers laying -10 or -11 points in this game. If this were a true home game for Marquette, with fans in the stands, I am thinking this line would be -2 or -3 points at the most.
The books have adjusted, but the betting public hasn’t, as they have hammered Marquette in this matchup, moving the line four points towards the Golden Eagles. Similar to last night’s game between ASU and Cal, the opening number was seemingly a bit inflated, at least in the eyes of the sharps, and they fired on the home dog. But looking back on that game, ASU opened up at -7.5-points, and eventually won the game by 8-points. So, I guess that number was spot on.
I think that will be the case again tonight. The opening number looks super high to everyone because the public has yet to react to this lack of home-court advantage that we are seeing. The Badgers will probably win this game by eight or nine points as the books predicted, and now that the public has moved the number sharply towards Marquette, we can back the Badgers and can feel really good about the play.
Laying wood on the road in a true road game was always a big no-no in college basketball betting, but it’s been crushing so far this season, and that is what I am going to do again tonight in this one. The Badgers are just the far superior team in this matchup, and without those screaming students to inspire them, I don’t think Marquette is going to be able to hang with them all game long.
The OK-State Cowboys are a solid defensive team and held Marquette to just 62-points. The Badgers are an elite defensive team, and it wouldn’t shock me if the Golden Eagles never hit the 60-point mark tonight. Give me the Wisconsin Badgers tonight as they knock off Marquette in their own house, likely by double-digits.