Wisconsin vs. Michigan Pick – February 16th

It was a big night for bubble-dwellers last night as seemingly every team that NEEDED a big win to stay alive captured one.  Arkansas’s was probably the most surprising – a road win at South Carolina, but the pair of Big East home wins by Providence and Seton Hall over Xavier and Creighton were equally important.

Just two weeks from conference tournaments, the bubble is as crowded as ever and more teams seem to be climbing ON rather than falling OFF.  The next two weeks are going to have dozens of important games most every single night – so let’s get ready for a fun stretch run!

We took the loss last night with Creighton coming up short in the final minutes to Seton Hall, but will try to get back on track tonight with another good slate of college action.

But first, let’s ask the question that tends to get one trolled on Twitter… Is Duke a legit Final Four Contender again?  And the answer, whether people like it or not, is obviously YES.  They have now won six games in a row including a home win over North Carolina and now a road win at Virginia.  They have as much talent as anyone in the country, a nice mix of veterans and freshman NBA talent and are steered by as good a coach as has ever lived.  So, yes, hate them if you want, but Duke is a LEGIT Final Four threat again…

Today’s College Basketball Pick:

Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Wolverines -1

Michigan is the feel-good story of the week in the Big Ten after decimating Michigan State at home and then going into Indiana to hammer one more nail into the Hoosiers’ 2016-2017 coffin.  But overall this is still very much a bubble team at 16-9 and 6-6 in conference and still very much needs another high profile win to solidify their resume.

Enter the Badgers.

Wisconsin is ranked #11 in the country and provides exactly the type of opportunity John Beilein’s team is seeking.  But will they take advantage?  Sure, the last two games looked great, but Michigan is still just 2-2 in their last four games and 5-5 in their last ten.  They have home losses to Ohio State and Maryland to offset the blowout wins over Indiana and Michigan State (both big names but shadows of teams compared to Wisky).  Overall, despite the optimism the last week has encouraged, their 2016-2017 campaign has been just “OK.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s last week has been rough.  They lost at home to Northwestern in what some are (reasonably) calling the biggest win in the history of Northwestern basketball (it is certainly the one that finalizes their ticket to the Dance) and they were fortunate to escape with a 70-69 win over Nebraska in Lincoln.  But taking a step back, they Badgers are 21-4 overall and 10-2 in conference. They own road wins at Marquette, Indiana and Minnesota and have generally handled themselves well away from home, with the exception of an early loss at then-healthy Creighton and a conference opening road loss at Purdue.

In general, home court matters, but I think Wisconsin is primed for a bounce-back game tonight.  They are a mature, veteran team (which helps explain their road success) and it is rare for them to play two poor games in a row. If we look at JUST the last two games, Michigan is a great value at -1.  If we broaden our scope to include the entirety of the season, Wisky is a two or three point favorite tonight.  Prior to the Northwestern loss in their last outing, Wisconsin had won eight games in a row.  Wisconsin has struggled shooting the basketball in their last two less-than-stellar outings, shooting just 25% from distance and under 38% overall.  A little regression to the mean is in order tonight for a very good basketball team.