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Wisconsin vs Minnesota NCAAM Pick – February 6th

After getting off to a rough start in Big 10 conference play, Wisconsin (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten) has gotten things together to build a five-game winning streak — and are debatedly playing their best quality of basketball right now throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

Tonight will be a challenge though, and a reminder: The Badgers would take a 59-52 loss to Minnesota (16-6, 6-5 Big Ten) at home last month when they suffered four losses in five games. Now in February, Wisconsin gets their shot at revenge.

Against the Golden Golphers, the 52 points that the Badgers tallied was the second lowest total of the season for Wisconsin. For the year, they average 72.1 PPG.

Since that stretch, which also featured losses to Purdue and Maryland, the Badgers have been on a roll. On their winning streak, it started with a home upset over No. 2 Michigan by a dominating score of 64-54. They would go on to get a 72-60 road win at Illinois, a 62-46 blowout home win against Northwestern, another 62-51 road victory at Nebraska, and their most recent was a 69-61 home win against another ranked opponent in No. 21 Maryland.

After that stretch, the Badgers now find themselves just one game out of first place in the Big Ten — a three-way tie for first is currently happening with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

Wisconsin’s place in the standings also makes tonight more emotional. If the Badgers would have gotten the win over Minnesota back in January, Wisconsin would have themselves in a four-way tie for first place. And not just that, but the Badgers were on a eight-game winning streak against the Golden Golphers up until that point.

But now Wisconsin is on a roll, and they also have the leading candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year in Ethan Happ. For the season, Happ is tallying 18.5 PPG and 10.3 RPG.

In the last victory over Maryland, Happ laid down 18 points and also grabbed down 11 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the 2018-19 campaign. It was the 45th of his career.

Another bright spot for Wisconsin in their last game was their number in the turnover department. They only allowed four against the Terrapins, which is a season-low. Needless to say, it looks like the Badgers have gotten their act together.

For Minnesota, they look for the season sweep over Wisconsin tonight. And the odds are looking pretty good for them considering they’re 11-1 at home.

The biggest headache for Wisconsin will be Gophers’ point guard Amir Coffey, who had 21 points against the Badgers in the upset road win. For the year, Coffey is averaging 16.2 PPG in the scoring department.

Senior forward Jordan Murphy will also make things difficult for Minnesota. In the 2018-19 season, Murphy is tallying averages of 14.9 PPG and 11.8 RPG. He’s recorded five straight double-doubles, and has a total of 15 for the whole season.

In their last game at Purdue on Sunday, the Golden Golphers would take a 73-63 loss to the Boilermakers. Coffey would put up 22 points for Minnesota, but the team as a whole would only hit two out of 16 shots from behind the three-point line.

That’s been the biggest issue for the Gophers this season, inconsistency — which leaves us with the question of: Which Minnesota will show up tonight against Wisconsin?

Tip-off is set for 9:00 PM ET, and the game will be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network (BTN). Wisconsin enters as a -2.5 point favorite over Minnesota.

INJURY REPORT

WISCONSIN

  • TREVOR ANDERSON: Knee (Out For Season)

MINNESOTA

  • ERIC CURRY: Calf (Probable)
  • MARCUS CARR: Eligibility (Out Indefinitely)


PLAYERS TO WATCH

WISCONSIN

ETHAN HAPP
When you look at Ethan Happ’s stat line, it’s no surprise that the Badger is up for Big Ten Conference Player of the Year — he’s effective in each scoring, rebounding, assists, as well as on defense. And oh yeah, he averages a double-double for the season. In the scoring department, he’s only 1.5 points away from the 20 mark at 18.5 PPG (and on elite 55.6 FG% shooting). His other double comes in the rebounding department at 10.3 RPG. Adding more points to the board, he tallies 5.1 APG. And on defense, he’s at 1.2 BLKPG and 1.0 STLPG.
D’MITRIK TRICE
The sophomore out of Huber Heights, Ohio has been a nice sidekick for Ethan Happ this season, though his numbers need to be a bit more productive in order for the Badgers to go on a deep tournament run. In points production, Trice hits double figures at 13.6 PPG, though the shooting needs to be higher than his 43.8 FG%. Though not too effective on the glass and in the assist market, he does leave his mark. He averages 3.0 RPG and 2.7 APG, and defensively, he does add an average of 0.9 STLPG.

MINNESOTA

AMIR COFFEY
For Minnesota this season, Amir Coffey has had a level of effectiveness in each scoring, rebounding and assists — particularly in points production. For the season, Coffey is only 3.8 points away from the 20 mark averaging 16.2 PPG, and the shooting has been solid as well at 45.0 FG%. Though not elite, he makes a little impact in the rebounding game at 3.1 RPG. And he’s also adding a few more points to the scoreboard with his 3.0 APG tally. Coffey also makes his mark on the defensive side as well, sitting at 0.9 STLPG for the season.
JORDAN MURPHY
Though not the leading scorer of the Golden Golphers like his teammate Amir Coffey, Murphy is a bit more effective overall averaging a double-double for the season. In the scoring department, Murphy is 5.1 points away from the 14.9 PPG mark, and the shooting has been elite as well at 50.7 FG%. On the glass, Murphy calculates his other double figure there with an 11.8 RPG tally. The senior out of San Antonio is also effective on defensive compiling numbers of 1.0 BLKPG and 0.7 STLPG.

CHECK THE NUMBERS

WISCONSIN

Statistically, we have a pretty balanced matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Golphers — both teams take two out of the four main line categories. In scoring, the Badgers get into the red right away at -2 averaging 72.1 PPG. However, they have a +3 edge in field goal percentage hitting 47.7% of their shots. On the glass, Wisconsin takes a -3 hit grabbing down 34.3 RPG. But they make up their two disadvantages with this one positive: A +9 advantage only allowing 61.5 PPG into their net.

MINNESOTA

Not only do the Golden Golphers have the homecourt advantage tonight, but they also hold two out of the four statistical categories — points-per-game and rebounds-per-game. In the scoring department, Minnesota holds the +2 advantage tallying 74.4 PPG, but they lack with a -3 disadvantage in field goal percentage hitting 44.7% of their shots. In the rebounding game, the Golphers are in the green again at +3 with a total of 37.7 RPG. But they take a big hit on the defensive side: -9 allowing 70.3 PPG against their defense.

POWELL’S PREDICTION

The odds-makers have the Wisconsin Badgers as the -2.5 point favorite, and I have to agree with Vegas on this one. With Minnesota already getting the win in their last matchup in Madison, you have to put Wisconsin on major upset alert in this one on the road — especially considering both teams have the exact same record and statistical leverage.

The Golden Golphers are coming off of a loss, however, and the Badgers are playing some of their best basketball of the season right now. So who do we take? We really have a true toss-up game in this one, folks. Another thing to consider to maybe give the edge to Wisconsin is the motivation factor: The loss against the Golphers back in January, and also being right on the edge of being on top of the Big Ten, is sure to bring some aggression from the Badgers tonight.

As incredibly tempted as I am to take Minnesota for the upset tonight, I just can’t do it with the way Wisconsin has been playing as of late. Revenge will also be a factor, the Badgers are going to want plenty of that, and I’m expecting Ethan Happ and Wisconsin’s elite defense to be the main reasons to solidify a Badgers victory. As far as the spread, it’s a risky bet, but I’d go ahead and take Wisconsin to cover the -2.5 with the fire-power. Take the over in the O/U too, I can see both teams putting up some points with both offenses being potent.

PREDICTION: Wisconsin: 74, Minnesota: 70

My Pick
WISCONSIN -2
Author Details
Andrew Powell

Andrew Powell has been working with The Sports Geek since November 2018 providing analysis and predictions in both the realms of sports and politics. Studying journalism through the University of Michigan, Powell’s experience in sports includes tenures at mainstream newspapers The Williamsport Sun-Gazette and The Lock Haven Express, and he would also be affiliated with FOX Sports Radio 1340 AM in Hopewell, Virginia. In politics, it would include a stint with Mad World News and multiple with the Republican Party. From the Super Bowl to The Kentucky Derby to President Donald Trump’s hair, Powell has you covered at The Sports Geek.

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