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College Basketball Pick
Wisconsin was going to have a nice two-game lead in the Big Ten standings ahead of this game, but things didn't work out that way. The Badgers unexpectedly lost in Madison to Northwestern on Sunday and now get to travel to Ann Arbor to take on a hot-shooting Michigan team. Suddenly, the Badgers could be looking like just another Big Ten team with a loss here, which will be more than possible.
The Wolverines gave Wisconsin a scare in their first meeting, but now it appears they are playing their best basketball of the season. After falling at home to Ohio State, Michigan came alive in a 29-point win against Michigan State and then most recently won at Indiana by 12 points. Considering how this game went the first time around, it could end much better for Michigan.
No one expected the Wolverines to have a chance in that first game, but kept things tight most of the way and led for a good portion of the second half until about five minutes left when Wisconsin went on a little run. The biggest thing was that they got something (20 points) out of senior Zak Irvin, who has really struggled with only 13 points total in the last four games. But he kept them close with Derrick Walton scoring 15. The more surprising thing was that freshman DJ Wilson didn't even score in 30 minutes and only took four shots. Wisconsin didn't do many things well in that first game, from going 6-of-16 from deep and only 14-of-24 from the free-throw line. This one should be close, as long as Michigan doesn't have one of those days when it hits every shot.
After getting gashed by Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh last game, Wisconsin will need to find a way to stop Walton from taking over for Michigan. Walton has been one of the best players in the conference in the last couple weeks and has at least 20 points in five-straight games. No one has been able to contain the senior and Wisconsin may have that same issue whether it's Bronson Koenig or Zak Showalter trying to stop him. But if Irvin continues to struggle, Michigan will need to continue getting production from guys like Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Of course, that's in addition to DJ Wilson and Moritz Wagner. Wilson and Moritz Wagner both had trouble dealing with Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes in that first game, so if that's an issue again, pulling away may be too difficult for the Wolverines.
On the other end, Wisconsin just needs Koenig to step up after scoring only two points in the Northwestern loss. Happ will get his usual baskets, but will Hayes and Koenig show up on the road? The Badgers may have the best record in the conference, but have looked far from dominant, as highlighted by three road overtime wins against Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska. If Wisconsin doesn't get good games from its best players, something Michigan is getting, this could be another loss for the Badgers.
our pick - Michigan by 2
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