WISCONSIN TRIES TO GET BACK ON TRACK SUNDAY IN BIG HOME GAME AGAINST DANGEROUS MICHIGAN STATE

The Wisconsin Badgers have a strong hold on first place in the Big 10 conference. But, they’d like to resettle their ship after a surprisingly bad performance earlier this week at Maryland. The rash of upsets that hit college basketball helped remind everyone how vulnerable the “powers” actually were. One bad shooting game will be all it takes to end a season in the Dance!

As we’ve mentioned already in the blog…the Badgers have a tough week ahead of them. Michigan State is just on the outside of the AP’s top 25 (#27 if the rankings went down that far), and Sparty generally peaks late in the season. A road game at Minnesota is up next, which has “storm the court” written all over it for the current Big 10 disappointment. Next week, the long awaited game with traditional rival Ohio State.

That’s either going to be a great tune-up to make sure Wiscy is tournament ready. Or, it’s going to be a gauntlet that raises doubts about whether or not this team really deserves its lofty perch in Bracketology discussions. And, from the Michigan State perspective, this will either be the red flag that alerts everyone another late season surge is imminent…or it’s the game that lets you know you can rule them out as a darkhorse.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this renewal of a classic Big 10 basketball rivalry…

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Michigan State: 113.2 per 100 possessions (#20 in the nation)
Wisconsin: 122.0 per 100 possessions (#2 in the nation)

You should already know that Wisconsin is one of the most efficient offenses in the nation. They work the ball for good shots inside or out. They are still prone to danger zones when the treys aren’t falling. But, they’re not as one-dimensional in that regard as in past seasons. Michigan State probably rates much better than you had been thinking. They’ve stayed off the TV radar after some early shakiness. That shakiness was on defense. They still have a top 20 offense.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Michigan State: 95.9 per 100 possessions (#61 in the nation)
Wisconsin: 94.7 per 100 possessions (#48 in the nation)

Here’s the weak spot of both teams. It’s very hard to take Wisconsin seriously as a Final Four threat with a defense that barely cracks the top 50. What’s going to happen when they run into good offenses? They couldn’t even beat Duke in Madison. Michigan State grades out even worse, which is why they may be no more than a spoiler in the Dance. Usually you think of MSU/Wiscy as a defensive-minded wrestling match. This year…the defenses are the soft spots.

Pace Ranking
Michigan State: #216
Wisconsin: #346

Wisconsin is one of the slowest teams in the nation. Michigan State is slightly slower than average…but will seem fast in comparison to the Badgers. The most likely scenario is that this game will be played very slowly, at a “playoff style” pace. But, both teams will score easily enough after working the ball that we’re not talking about a 42-40 yawner. The home team usually controls the pace. It’s not like MSU wants to run anyway.

Against the Spread
Michigan State: 15-13
Wisconsin: 14-13-1

The market has done a fairly good job with these teams. Once you factor in the 10% vigorish in Las Vegas, MSU is slightly profitable, while Wiscy is slightly down. Note that Wisconsin is 11-17 to the Under, which may matter in this particular game environment. Even if we’re not looking at a 42-40 throwback game…the teams may have trouble reaching the Vegas threshold.

JIM HURLEY may or may not be releasing this game to clients. There’s a busy 8-game NBA schedule along with a representative college slate. Today’s BEST BETS could be scattered amongst the Big East, the Pac 12, or Clippers/Bulls and Cavaliers/Rockets in the NBA.You can purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 before the early games tip off.

Welcome to March! One more week of regular season college basketball in the major conferences awaits. Our travelogue continues with visits to the Big 12, SEC, ACC, and Big 10. Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule for the final week. Then it’s TOURNAMENT TIME!

Monday: College Basketball…Oklahoma at Iowa State in the Big 12
Tuesday: College Basketball…Kentucky at Georgia in the SEC
Wednesday: College Basketball…Notre Dame at Louisville in the ACC
Thursday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Minnesota in the Big 10
Friday: Early Look…Kansas at Oklahoma in the Big 12
Saturday: College Basketball…choosing from Duke/North Carolina or Virginia/Louisville.
Sunday 3/8: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Ohio State in the Big 10

There are some mid-major events that get under way this week. There’s just not enough readership interest to pop in on those here in the NOTEBOOK. We will do our best to get you ready for the major tourneys next week. Watching all the big games this week is the best preparation you can do for what’s ahead!

If you’re going to watch…you might as well win! Be sure you GET THE MONEY all through the month of March with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
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