WISCONSIN BADGERS (20-5)
at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (18-6)
Crisler Center - Ann Arbor, MI
Tip-off: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan -4
Two of the best teams in the Big Ten due battle on Sunday as No. 21 Wisconsin visits No. 15 Michigan.
The Badgers and Wolverines played in Madison on January 18, and it was Michigan stealing a rare road victory against Wisconsin, winning 77-70. In that game, SG Nik Stauskas scored 23 points as Michigan was able to win in this series for just the second time in 14 tries (6-8 ATS). The Wolverines connected on 55 percent of their shots that night, while also making 7-of-13 from the three-point line. Michigan (12-9-1 ATS overall, 4-5 ATS on road, 8-4 ATS in Big Ten) has been on a tear as of late, winning 12 of its past 14 games (9-4-1 ATS). The Badgers appear to have gotten things rolling again with three straight wins following a stretch of five losses in six games. Wisconsin (11-12-2 ATS, 5-8-1 ATS at home, 4-7 ATS in Big Ten) has done a very good job against ranked teams this season, going 4-1 with the lone loss being a one-point defeat to Ohio State on Feb. 1. In Wisconsinís most recent victory over Minnesota on Thursday, the Badgers went 30-of-36 from the free throw line. Bo Ryan has as much offensive talent as he has had in recent memory, but his club must become better at sharing the ball with each other. The Badgers had only eight assists on 21 field goals on Thursday, as they try and go one-on-one too much. While it worked against Minnesota, the Michigan defense will not be that easy to score on.
Which Big Ten school will pick up the key victory on Sunday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 58% ATS (202-144-11) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (170-110-6) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (45-24-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (38-17-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (43-28-1) for the season and 67% ATS (26-13) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a strong 57% ATS (39-30-2) for the season and 58% ATS (29-21-2) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a solid 55% ATS (37-30-4) on Best Bets this season, including 57% ATS (31-23-3) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 54% ATS (38-32-2) for the season, and 58% ATS (32-23) since Nov. 29.
The Badgers enter Sunday's game ranked 124th in the nation in scoring (73.0 PPG), 248th in assists (11.9 APG) and 268th in rebounding (33.2 RPG). But they still rank second in the nation in turnovers (8.6 per game) and limit opponents to a mere 53.0 PPG on 42.3% FG and 32.8% threes. Wisconsin has a balanced offensive attack, as four players average double-figures in scoring. SF Sam Dekker (13.4 PPG, 47% FG, 6.0 RPG), SG Ben Brust (13.2 PPG, 40% threes, 4.7 RPG), C Frank Kaminsky (12.5 PPG, 41% threes, 6.0 RPG) and PG Traevon Jackson (10.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.9 APG) all are capable players that can contribute in many different ways. Dekker is one of the most difficult matchups in the Big Ten. At 6-foot-7, the small forward can score off the bounce, but will take a smaller defender in the post. As a team, the Badgers shoot 37.1% from the three-point line. SG Josh Gasser (8.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG) is the best long-range shooter on the team (42% threes), and is just another shooter that the Wolverines will have to worry about. This starting five scored 63 of the 70 points when these teams met on Jan. 18 with Gasser scoring 16 points (4-of-5 threes), Brust and Kaminsky netting 14, Dekker posting a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards and Jackson shooting poorly (3-of-11 FG), but still contributing seven points, five assists and three rebounds.
Michigan has 75.5 PPG (78th in Div. I) this season, shooting the ball at a 48.2% FG clip (20th in nation). This club is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, hitting at a rate of 39.3% (26th in Div. I). However, like Wisconsin, it has really struggled on the glass (33.0 RPG, 274th in nation). A big portion of that is because of the injury to PF Mitch McGary (8.3 RPG), who was lost for the season with a back injury. Although the Wolverines donít generate many blocks (2.8 BPG, 270th in Div. I) or steals (5.4 SPG, 265th in nation), they allow just 64.4 PPG (46th in Div. I) on 43.5% FG and 33.0% threes. SG Nik Stauskas (16.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG) has gone from talented role player to a guy that is capable of leading a team. He is still a devastating three-point shooter (45% threes), but he is also able to get to the rim and finish. That versatility in his offensive arsenal has made him extremely difficult to stop. With PF Glenn Robinson III (12.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG) and SG Caris LeVert (12.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.8 APG), Michigan has a trio of scorers extremely tough to contend with. Robinson scored 14 points (6-of-8 FG), but had zero rebounds in 31 minutes in last month's win in Madison, while LeVert piled up 20 points, seven boards, four assists and four steals in that victory. PG Derrick Walton Jr. (8.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.7 RPG) is continuing to improve as a freshman point guard. He is shooting 41% from the three-point line, making defenses have to respect him from the outside. He is tremendous off the bounce, where he is able to finish at the rim, or hit the open guy for the perimeter shot. Both of these teams are able to knock it down from deep, but this game will come down to which one of these poor rebounding teams can take control on the glass.