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Pick with Analysis
Everyone knows that Indiana is really good, it's not a secret. They lead the nation in scoring with 87.1 points per game and are near the top in almost every other category. Their only loss this season came on a neutral court against an always difficult Butler squad. They've had a couple tough tasks to open the Big 10 season and this game is no different.
The casual fan probably doesn't know that Wisconsin beat Indiana two times last year in two tries. Sure, the Badgers were a little better team last year with Jordan Taylor, but they still bring the same kind of slow-it-down pace and dreaded defense that opponents hate. While these two teams didn't face off in Bloomington last year, they did play in the Big 10 tourney (79-71 Wisconsin win) which took place in Indianapolis which was close to a home game for the Hoosiers.
Will the Badgers defense come through again like they did over the weekend against Illinois? Against then-ranked No.12 Illinois, Wisconsin played a complete game winning 74-51. That happened to be their first quality win of the year, though. Losses against Florida and Creighton were respectable while their offense couldn't come through against Virginia and Marquette.
Wisconsin isn't even in the Top 100 in scoring in the country so you know that's going to be a problem in this game. Big man Jared Berggren will need to be on his game because he opens things up for this offense. Ben Brust has taken up a bigger role in the backcourt without Taylor to facilitate. He's averaging 11 points, 6.3 boards and 3.1 assists per game. He'll need to play smart and not turn it over because you can't give Indiana freebies. Ryan Evans is having another good season with 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but the more important piece to the puzzle might be freshman Sam Dekker. If he can come off the bench and hit some shots, he will be key in keeping the Badgers close.
Of course to stay in the game they will also have to stop a team that shoots better than 50 percent from the field. Minnesota found out how hard that is after the Hoosiers put 52 points on them in the first half last Saturday. In that game, every one of their starters had at least 13 points not to mention Will Sheehey (11.4 PPG) didn't even score. They have Cody Zeller down low, Christian Watford who can play everywhere, Victor Oladipo who is almost always the most athletic player on the court, Jordan Hulls the sharpshooter and Yogi Ferrell, the advanced freshman. You have to mention all of these guys when talking about Indiana because they all play an important role.
If Wisconsin gets down early like Minnesota did, it's going to be long day for the Badgers. They don't have the scorers to get back in a game if they get down by double digits early. That's exactly what happened when they played Florida (74-56 loss), who is a similar team to Indiana.
We ran this game through our college hoops model using 3 different sets of parameters. Data from the entire season, data from the last 5 games and data from the last 7 games. The predictions, in that order, all came up with Indiana on top, by scores of 72-60, 69-53 and 69-57. So, margins of 12, 16 and 12. As of this writing, the only book with a line posted on this game is Betonline. They have Indiana favored by -11.5.
We're going to side with the Hoosiers here. This will be the toughest test to date for Wisconsin. They have come up short against top teams with the exception of Illinois this past weekend. They lost by 18 at Florida who would be the only other team in the sane ball park as Indiana as far as talent. But they also came up short at Marquette, by 10, by 10 on a neutral floor against Creighton and by 6 at home against Virginia. Nothing strong here, just an opinion, but watch the board. If this line ends up -10 or less across the board, we could get interested in the Hoosiers officially. Indiana -11.5
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