Pick – Analysis
Minnesota’s next three Games are what will decide if they make the NCAA Tournament or not. Wisconsin is hoping someone falters above them so they can grab a No. 1 seed, but with three of its final Four Games on the road, things won’t be easy for the Badgers.
After this Game, Wisconsin gets to travel to Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio State. It doesn’t help that its lone home Game is against a surging Michigan State squad. As for this matchup, the Badgers haven’t really been tested at home yet this season in Big Ten play and there’s no reason that will happen in this Game. But will they cover, or will they be looking ahead to their upcoming Schedule?
The Golden Gophers have a rough Schedule ahead and likely need at least two big wins before entering the Conference Tournament after losing at home to Northwestern on Wednesday. After this Game, they get to travel to Michigan State and then host Wisconsin. If they don’t win one of their next three Games, it’s safe to say the Gophers won’t be in the big dance with 13 or 14 losses. This is a team that has picked up their play and gotten some big wins against Purdue and Iowa in recent Games, but Wisconsin is an entirely different animal.
Wisconsin’s stout defense along with their efficient offense has completely stifled everyone in the conference. On the offensive end, the Badgers can attack from any spot on the floor, whether it’s in the post or on the outside. Frank Kaminsky (17.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) may be in the Player of the Year discussion, but this is a complete team. They have a ridiculous six players that have made at least 18 threes this year, which you don’t see too often. They have shooters at every position on the cOurt.
Starting in the frontcOurt, the Badgers have Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes, who can both stretch the floor, but also attack in the paint. The Gophers don’t have a big team and that will be their first problem. Maurice Walker and Joey King will probably get the task of defending Wisconsin’s two bigs. Although, Minnesota could use the 6’11” Elliott Eliason a bit more, in an effort to get more size on the cOurt.
The Gophers Scoreclose to 75 points per Game, but those averages are skewed a little because they completely wiped out a lot of their non-Conference opponents. In fact, they’ve been averaging less than 65 points per Game in their last five. That won’t help against a Wisconsin team that can Scoreand has won five of their last six Games by double digits.
The Badgers are great at inside-out ball, with Josh Gasser, Bronson Koenig and Sam Dekker on the wings. Dekker is a pain as well for defenses because he also has size at small forward, yet he’s a not a guy you can leave open behind the arc.
Andre Hollins has been killing it for the Gophers this year, but they’ll need someone other than him to cover in this Game. Maurice Walker will probably have trouble, but someone like Carlos Morris or DeAndre Mathieu will need to have a big Game. Morris is averaging 11.3 points per Game, but he hasn’t been close to those numbers in a while.
Wisconsin is close to unstoppable at home, but they are only 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight Games in Madison. On the other end, the Gophers haven’t been good on the road at 2-6 ATS. Maybe more importantly, Minnesota just allowed Northwestern to go 15-of-32 from three-point land so it’s a wonder how they’ll come out in this Game.
Our Prediction – Wisky by 20