Wisconsin at Minnesota Odds, Prediction & TV Info
When: Saturday, Jan. 21, 4:30 PM ET
Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis
TV: Big Ten Network
Opening NCAA Basketball Lines: TBA
Why Bet On Wisconsin?The Badgers (15-3) come off a 68-64 victory over Michigan, UW’s 15th straight win at home. Bronson Koenig scored 13 of his 16 points after halftime and took over during a big run that helped UW erase an eight-point deficit. The Badgers struggled offensively for the first 28 minutes of the game and had some lapses on the other end of the court as well. But they flipped the switch in time to avoid a damaging loss in their quest for a second conference title in three seasons.
Koenig took only three shots during an uneventful first half which saw Wisconsin take a 26-21 lead by limiting Michigan to its lowest point total of the season. But after the Badgers scored the first basket of the second half, they didn’t score another one for over seven minutes. While they were missing seven of eight shots, the Wolverines were making seven of nine and outscoring them 17-4.
An overlooked moment in the game was Wisconsin guard D’Mitrik Trice’s four-point swing with 12 minutes left in the game. It sparked a Badger scoring streak and helped them end a lengthy scoring drought. The free throw, followed up by a three-pointer in the corner, cut the Michigan lead of seven down to three. UW scored 30 points in its first 41 possessions of the game. It produced 38 points over its final 21 possessions.
“There are going to be nights like this, like I told our guys, where you’ve just got to dig in and continue to scrap and fight and find a way,” UW coach Greg Gard said after his team moved into a tie with Maryland atop the Big Ten standings. “But I was proud of our guys for how they responded and didn’t back down when things maybe weren’t going well.”
Sporting one of the most efficient offenses in the nation (15th according to KenPom.com), UW is averaging 80.6 ppg and shooting 49.8% over the last 11 games. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten allowing just 60.2 ppg and ranks 2nd with 7.3 steals per game. UW ranks 19th in the NCAA in defensive efficiency.
Why Bet On Minnesota?There is expected to be a rare sellout at Williams Arena for this game. The Minnesota men’s basketball program’s last sellout at the Barn was the Wisconsin game in 2014-15. The Gophers rank 11th in the Big Ten in attendance with 9,091 fans on average after 13 games. Last season, Minnesota played in front of a non-sellout crowd (12,275) against Wisconsin at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season when it finished 9-22. Former Gophers coach Tubby Smith’s teams sold out every game against the Badgers during his six seasons from 2007-13.
The Gophers (15-4) were ranked briefly but lost both games last week on the road at Michigan State and Penn State to fall out of the Top 25. It was 52-50 against the Nittany Lions as PSU’s Tony Carr hit two foul shots with 5 seconds left. Minnesota led by 10 at halftime but the Gophers were outscored 26-15 over the final 17 minutes after leading by as many as 14 in first half.
With the Gophers struggling offensively, Coach Richard Pitino believes it’s time to make a change to his starting lineup. Against PSU, Minnesota scored just 17 points in the second half on 28 percent shooting from the field. The Gophers also struggled offensively in a 65-47 loss at Michigan State with 17 points in the first half. There’s something wrong with the offense right now, so Pitino said Monday on his radio show that he will replace sophomore Dupee McBrayer with senior Akeem Springs in the starting backcourt.
McBrayer, a 6-foot- 5 guard, is averaging 11.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals a game this season. He’s shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range in 30.7 minutes. Springs, a 6-4 captain, is averaging 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 20.8 minutes.
Redshirt junior Reggie Lynch sits among the nation’s leaders in blocked shots. He has 52 blocks on the season, leading both the team and the Big Ten Conference and eighth nationally with an average of 3.1 blocks per game. He is spearheading the Minnesota team blocking effort which leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in Division I at 6.7 blocks per game.
Wisconsin at Minnesota Prediction: Minnesota Golden Gophers
UW has won five straight in the series but I lean the home Gophers on NCAAB odds.