MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (26-6)
vs. WISCONSIN BADGERS (21-10)
Big Ten Conference Tournament - Quarterfinals
United Center – Chicago, IL
Tip-off: Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan -2.5, Total: 124
No. 6 Michigan has vengeance on its mind when it clashes with No. 22 Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
When these teams played their lone regular-season meeting on Feb. 9 in Madison, the Badgers needed a half-court prayer from Ben Brust at the end of regulation and then a Brust game-winning three in the final minute of the extra session to win 65-62. The Wolverines are just 6-5 SU (2-9 ATS) in their past 11 games, which includes Thursday's 83-66 quarterfinal win over Penn State. Wisconsin has been up-and-down recently. After losing three of its final four games of January, the team was 6-1 SU (5-1-1 ATS) in February before losing two of three in March (0-3 ATS). Michigan is only 3-7 ATS on the road this season, but is a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) at a neutral site, including Thursday's win and cover. The Badgers are 3-9-1 ATS in non-home games this season, including 0-2 ATS on a neutral court. However, Wisconsin has dominated this series since 2007, going 11-1 SU (7-5 ATS) versus the Wolverines.
Will the Wolverines earn a rare win over Wisconsin on Friday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts were a collective 85% ATS (11-2-1) on Thursday and are 65% ATS (43-23-2) in the past six days, with StatFox Brian posting a 78% ATS mark (14-4-1), StatFox Gary going 67% ATS (8-4), StatFox Dave at 60% ATS (9-6) and StatFox Scott at 57% ATS (12-9-1) since Saturday. Gary has a 63% ATS mark (19-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 55.2% ATS (106-86-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. Dave is 57% ATS (20-15) since Feb. 28, and 52% ATS (166-154-5) for the season.
It's tough to find a weakness with Michigan, especially offensively, as the team scores 75.7 PPG on 49% FG and 39% threes. The Wolverines can also play defense as well, holding opponents to 62.8 PPG on 42% FG and 33% threes. They also have the fewest turnovers in the nation at 9.1 TOPG, and a stellar 1.58 Ast/TO ratio this season, dishing out 15 assists with a mere three turnovers in Thursday's victory. PG Trey Burke (19.2 PPG, 6.7 APG) is the biggest reason this offense runs so efficiently, posting an outstanding 3.41 Ast/TO ratio this season. He can also score too, tallying at least 15 points in each of his past 20 contests, including 19 points (8-of-21 FG, 2-of-8 threes) in the loss at Wisconsin last month. Burke opened his Big Ten Tournament with 21 points against Penn State. His backcourt mate, SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG), scored 18 points (8-of-17 FG) in the Feb. 9 win at Wisconsin but has gone cold since that game with a subpar 35% FG clip, including 20% threes (9-of-45). He made just 5-of-14 shots in Thursday's win, including 1-of-7 threes. SF Nik Stauskas (11.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG) was held to just five points on 2-of-7 shooting last month in Madison, but he's starting to heat up with three straight games of 12+ points. He scored 15 points on 4-of-7 FG (2-of-4 threes) and 5-of-5 FT on Thursday. PF Glenn Robinson Jr. (10.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG) scored only four points in 33 minutes against the Badgers on Feb. 9, continuing a trend of poor scoring outputs away from home. Since the start of February, Robinson averages 12.4 PPG at home, but just 4.5 PPG elsewhere after his five points (2-of-6 FG) on Thursday. PF Mitch McGary (6.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG) played well against Wisconsin last month with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals off the bench. He also posted a double-double against Penn State with 10 points (5-of-6 FG) and 11 rebounds (5 offensive).
Like Michigan, Wisconsin rarely turns the ball over (9.6 TOPG, 4th-fewest in nation), and ranks among the top-7 teams in the nation in fewest fouls committed (14.1 per game). The Badgers also give 100 percent on the defensive end of the court, limiting opponents to a mere 56.0 PPG on 39% FG and 30% threes. But they do not possess the offensive talent that Michigan has, scoring a mere 66.1 PPG on 42.5% FG and 33.6% threes. C Jared Berggren (11.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG) is the team's leading scorer and was one of four double-digit scorers in last month's win over Michigan with 13 points and eight rebounds. PF Ryan Evans (10.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG) had 11 points and nine rebounds that night, game hero SG Ben Brust (11.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG) led the team with 14 points (4-of-7 threes) and freshman SF Sam Dekker (9.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG) came off the bench to score 12 points with five rebounds. Berggren played very well in the team's most recent game last Sunday at Penn State, tallying a double-double with 12 points (6-of-8 FG) and 10 rebounds. Evans was in foul trouble that game and finished with just two points and two rebounds in 19 minutes. Brust (13 pts, 4 ast) and Dekker (14 pts, 4 reb) helped pick up Evans while SG Traevon Jackson (6.5 PPG, 2.8 APG) burned the Nittany Lions for 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.