Pick – Analysis
It’s looking like Wisconsin’s toughest stretch of the season is now. The Badgers fell at Maryland on Tuesday and get another surging team. Michigan State is on a roll and could be the biggest threat to take down the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament. We’ll get a real idea of how good the Spartans are actually playing in this one.
The Badgers finish the season with back-to-back road Games at Minnesota and Ohio State, so you have to think this senior-laden squad is going to go all out in its final home Game, especially after a loss. Put simply, Wisconsin has dominated the Conference this year. They are efficient on both ends of the floor and play no-nonsense Bo Ryan basketball.
Michigan State has been an up-and-down story all season long. The Spartans couldn’t get that big win in non-Conference play and eventually lost to Texas Southern along the way. They never really found their footing until recently on a stretch that includes Four straight road wins. In fact, you could have an argument to say MSU has actually looked better on the road than at home for a good part of the Conference campaign. Nothing says that better than a 5-2 ATS record on the road in Big Ten play, compared with 2-5 ATS at home.
With this being the only time these two teams are playing in the regular season, expect this to be a real grind-it-out Game, which both teams can do. The Badgers haven’t had many close Games this year, however, due to their dominance over the rest of the conference.
The biggest advantage, which is usually the case for Wisconsin, will be Frank Kaminsky. Michigan State will have to use Gavin SChilling and Matt Costello on him. Both of those guys give up size and aren’t used to guarding bigs out on the perimeter. It’s also unlikely either of them will be able to do much on the offensive end, although MSU doesn’t really need them too.
Branden Dawson, who has been one of the best defensive players in the Conference as of late, will get the bigger Nigel Hayes. That will be a fun matchup on both ends of the cOurt, and it’s a wonder if Hayes’s length will be an issue for Dawson. Sam Dekker and Denzel Valentine will matchup at the 3, and for the majority of the Game Tum Tum Nairn and Travis Trice will be on Bronson Koenig and Josh Gasser in the backcOurt.
Unlike a lot of Wisconsin’s matchups in Conference play, they are fairly even with Michigan State at every position outside of Kaminsky. And that’s basically why the Badgers are the better team as Kaminsky averages 17.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg, much better than what the Spartans have from their bigs.
Another factor will be MSU’s perimeter defense, which has been a high point to their season. Wisconsin is coming off a Game shooting 6-of-22 from deep, so that’s definitely something to look at.
The Badgers don’t make many mistakes and play great perimeter defense, which could be an issue for Michigan State, who is one of the better shooting teams in the conference. MSU has a shot, but it’s going to require them to limit Kaminsky’s open looks and not have SChilling and Costello get into foul trouble. Valentine, Trice and Dawson are clicking at the right time and that trio can keep them competitive with any team in the nation.
But will it be enough in Wisconsin’s final home Game of the season? That could be one of the bigger factors to consider when betting this Game.
Our Prediction – Wisconsin by 10