The Wisconsin Badgers, who are 2-0 in conference play so far this season, will be hosting the Minnesota Golden Gophers tonight. We’ll preview this Big-Ten match-up before getting into my best bet for the game.
Minnesota enters tonight, still searching for their first conference win. The Golden Gophers lost their first two Big-Ten games and currently sit at 6-6 on the season. Offense has been hard to come by for them as they are averaging just 63.4 points per game and have an offensive efficiency rating of 99.5, according to KenPom.
Dawson Garcia is leading the team with 14.2 points per game, but as a team, the Golden Gophers are shooting 42.6% from the field this season, ranked 229th in the country. The team's overall slow pace of play has made offense hard to come by at times, which would not be the end of the world if they didn’t have a defensive efficiency rating that ranks 157th in the country on KenPom.
The teams' lack of rebounding and below-average ability to force turnovers has become a major problem for them. As of today, the Golden Gophers have a defensive rebounding percentage of 70.6% (271st in the country) and have only been able to force an average of 112 turnovers per game (306th in the country). These two areas of weakness are not ideal when playing a team like Wisconsin, with an offensive efficiency rating of 107.
The Badgers have not been one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, but their offense has been able to get the job done, especially from beyond the arc. As a team, Wisconsin is shooting 38.1% from three, which is the 24th-best percentage in the country. The Badgers are making an average of 8.9 three-pointers a game, so combining that with their stellar defense, it is no surprise they have opened the season 10-2.
The point total for this game can currently be found at 123.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet. The over is 5-1 in the Badgers' last six games, and I think the current total is a bit too low, so I expect this trend to continue.
Over the Badgers' last six games, they have managed to score 75 or more points in five of them, and with Minnesota’s struggles to defend against P5 teams, they should be able to score around the same amount tonight. The Golden Gophers let up 89 and 90 points in their two conference games, causing both games to go over the point total by an average margin of 28.5 points.
Steven Crowl is coming off his best offensive performance of the season, putting up 25 points and eight rebounds, and with Minnesota’s lack of rebounding and interior defense, he should be able to spark another big night from the Badgers' offense.