Thursday Night Wisconsin-Michigan Preview
Wisconsin is embarrassed that they didn’t qualify for any of the top 16 seeds in the first national “unveiling” of the tournament committee’s rankings last week…and REALLY embarrassed about losing soon after to Northwestern as 11-point favorites!
Michigan is embarrassed to be seen nationally as a “bubble” team given the recent history of the program. Though, an impressive win over Indiana at least pushed them aggressively to the right side of the bubble.
Wisconsin visits Michigan Thursday night on ESPN in a game that could loom very large over potential tournament seedings the rest of the way. Both have to shine! If either lays an egg under the national spotlight, the media and committee members aren’t going to forget.
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats from the full season have to say about the Badgers and Wolverines. Once again, we check in with Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats that are publicly posted at kenpom.com…
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Wisconsin: 114.3 per 100 possessions (#36 in the nation)
Michigan: 119.6 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)
As we’ve discussed a few times over the years, media and public perception of Michigan is usually BACKWARDS! Michigan plays at a very slow pace, which creates the illusion of lousy offense and great defense. Once you adjust for that (as Pomeroy does), you find that they have an amazingly efficient offense that makes the most of its possessions, but a surprisingly soft defense that can be bullied inside. Michigan gets the nod on this side of the floor…with home court advantage only helping.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Wisconsin: 90.6 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)
Michigan: 101.5 per 100 possessions (#114 in the nation)
This is where Wisconsin can take control of the game. Wisconsin plays slow, but also gets stops! The Badgers are significantly better on this side of the floor…which is why they lead the Big 10 and rank so much higher than Michigan in the computers. Defense wins championships…and Wisconsin is still best positioned to win the Big 10 regular season and tournament championships because they are so strong on the defensive end.
Well, this is going to be ugly unless you love watching teams pass the ball around the arc for 25 seconds at a time. Both teams are slow as molasses. Both defenses are used to seeing that in practice, so rotations should be clean and crisp. Look for a low scoring grinder. If Wisconsin’s smart…they’ll patiently look for openings in the paint that will lead to easy baskets. Michigan tends to back off to avoid foul trouble when the ball gets closer to the rim. If Wiscy is happy to settle for a lot of three-point attempts, they may drop their second game in a row.
Against the Spread
Wisconsin has largely played to expectations, which is common for big name programs who are priced to perfection. Michigan has been disappointing in stretches, which caught the market by surprise. Obviously, the Wolverines aren’t used to being a bubble-caliber team! Oddsmakers and the public took awhile to get up to speed.
Bottom line…you have the superior defense of Wisconsin hoping to overcome the home court advantage of Michigan. There’s also a “double reversal” possibility in terms of emotional readiness. Wisconsin should be fired up to bounce back from a humiliating home loss, while Michigan might be flat off that big TV won over the Hoosiers. This is a game super-motivated Wisconsin can actually dominate if they attack the right spots. The Badgers could get dominated themselves if they play too passively with the ball.
JIM HURLEY will definitely be looking very closely at this one for serious play. But, he and his NETWORK never force selections just because a game is on TV. You can purchase nightly BEST BETS in the baskets right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs, please call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours.
Back with you over the weekend with what will likely be a preview of Virginia/North Carolina or Kansas/Baylor (or both!). Big TV matchups are coming hot and heavy through the heart of February. We’ll do our best to hop around the major conferences to make sure you’re ahead of the game whether it’s the Big 10, the ACC, the Big 12, or any league that loves its basketball.
Wisconsin and Michigan want to send a message…JIM HURLEY has a message for you…LET’S GO GET THE MONEY!
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