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Excited for some Big Ten and Big East action on Wednesday night? So are we! Below, we outline our favorite bets from this loaded slate, featuring these two games: No. 11 Wisconsin versus Michigan and No. 19 Creighton versus Providence. See below which of these teams we are backing against the spread and why!
Date: Wednesday, February 7
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Moneyline: Wisconsin N/A | Michigan N/A
It has been a tough week for the now-11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, who dropped a road game to Nebraska and followed that up with a narrow six-point home loss to the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers. Those two losses have put Wisconsin behind the eight ball, as it is now 1.5 games behind Purdue for first place in the Big Ten. Further, the Boilers currently have the tiebreaker, forcing Wisconsin to go to Mackey Arena and secure a win later in the season (the last regular-season game) to mitigate that loss.
Still, Wisconsin’s remaining Big Ten schedule is relatively easy besides the road game against Purdue. Based on the opponent’s winning percentage to this point, the Badgers have the third-easiest remaining schedule, which is harder than only Nebraska and Northwestern’s schedules. If the Badgers want to stay in the hunt for a Big Ten regular season title, they need to string together some road wins against teams they should beat, including this one against the struggling Michigan Wolverines.
Meanwhile, Michigan is undergoing one of its worst seasons in quite some time. The Wolverines are 7-15 overall and boast a 2-9 record in Big Ten play through February 6th. This team lost a ton of key players from last year, which was also an underwhelming squad relative to their talent; however, this is inexcusable given the history of this basketball program. The last time that Michigan finished with a winning percentage at or below its current record was in the 2007-08 season, which was former head coach John Beilein’s first year coaching the Wolverines. Before that, it was the 1981-82 season that a Wolverines team finished at or below the winning percentage that this year’s team currently boasts. Yikes.
It was obvious that Michigan would be in a down season after three-level-scoring, two-way-playing big man Hunter Dickinson announced that he would enter the transfer portal. The losses of first-round draft picks Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard also hurt the Wolverines, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, but they still had Dug McDaniel, Terrance Williams II, Tarris Reed Jr., Jaelin Llewellyn, and Will Tschetter slated to return.
The offense hasn’t necessarily been the issue, as Michigan ranks 54th in adjusted offensive efficiency and shoots the 39th-highest 3P% (36.9%) in the nation. Its struggles have been on the defensive end, where the Wolverines rank 186th in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing opponents to shoot roughly 46% from the field and 36% from three. Those wouldn’t be atrocious defensive numbers if the Wolverines were an NBA team, but obviously, they are not. As far as unadjusted defensive efficiency is concerned, Michigan ranks 316th, which is the worst of any high-major D-I program in the country (only low-to-mid-majors rank lower.)
While the Badgers lost by six points at home to Purdue, it wasn’t like they put together their best performance. Wisconsin shot just 3-for-19 (15.8%) from behind the arc, which is well below its season average of 34.9%. Cold shooting nights are bound to happen, but it is challenging to envision another shooting performance that is that poor for the rest of the season. A positive that the Badgers can take away from their loss to Purdue is that they only turned the ball over five times against one of the best defenses in the country (18th in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom.)
Additionally, Wisconsin has the 45th-highest offensive rebounding percentage on the road, giving it a monumentally large advantage against a Wolverines team that ranks 289th in defensive rebounding percentage. This is a natural rebound spot for a Badgers squad that is antsy to get back in the win column and has had some strong road performances throughout the season. On the other hand, Michigan has dropped five consecutive games, including three straight double-digit home losses.
Date: Wednesday, February 7
Time: 8:30 pm EST
Moneyline: Creighton N/A | Providence N/A
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. Head over to DraftKings Sportsbook to place your bets.
Leave it to Creighton to show glimpses of brilliance, but then drop the ball unexpectedly. Inconsistency has been a common theme for the Bluejays throughout the 2023-24 campaign, as they can handle business for a stretch as they did in January (7-1 record.) However, they can quickly get sloppy, like they did when they let Butler hang 99 points on them in their last game, allowing the Bulldogs to shoot 55% from the field and 59% from behind the arc.
A portion of the Bluejays’ roller-coaster habits could be due to their top-heavy roster. Head coach Greg McDermott has typically deployed six players in his rotation throughout Big East conference play. Ryan Kalkbrenner, Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, Steven Ashworth, Mason Miller, and Francisco Farabello are the only players who log more than 12 minutes per game. Isaac Traudt and Fredrick King will enter the game for two and three-minute stretches to give the starters a quick rest, but they do not see the floor for much longer.
The trio of Kalkbrenner, Scheierman, and Alexander is among the nation’s best, supplying rebounding, shooting, and individual scoring talent. The Bluejays offense is predicated on Kalkbrenner getting touches in the post, attacking hard closeouts, and shooting a ton of three-pointers; they rank seventh in three-point attempts per game.
Unfortunately, Creighton has been hit-or-miss from deep, despite his obvious shooting talent. For instance, Scheierman shoots just shy of 38% but hit 46% of his attempts two years ago. Ashworth is fresh off a season that saw him shoot 43.4% from deep, but he’s barely above 35% in the 2023-24 regular season. Trey Alexander? He’s shooting 11% worse from three-point land this year.
Creighton has no issues inside the arc, ranking third in the nation in two-point percentage. Kalkbrenner’s 63% mark has been a huge help to the Bluejays’ overall shooting numbers, but even that is nearly seven percent lower than his 2022-23 field goal percentage.
Meanwhile, despite some unfortunate circumstances, including a season-ending injury to Bryce Hopkins, their best player, the Providence Friars continue to fight every night. Providence holds a 3-6 record (including the game he suffered the injury in) since it lost Hopkins, but the Friars have remained competitive on most nights, losing by single digits in four of those bouts.
Providence ranks 54th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin due to its ninth-ranked defense (adjD.) The Friars are a disaster on the other end of the floor, sitting outside the top 150 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Their only “saving grace” on offense has been junior guard Devin Carter’s play, averaging 18.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on a 48/38/70 shooting split.
Even with Carter’s efficient scoring, he alone cannot lift up the Friars’ efficiency, or lack thereof. In fact, they knock down only 31.5% of their three-point attempts, which ranks 276th in the nation. That number drastically decreases to 29.4% without Carter’s three-point makes and attempts included, meaning their perimeter output often relies completely on his shooting. That is a ton of pressure. Luckily, Providence does a solid job of knocking down its two-point attempts, sitting at 22nd in 2P% this season. Josh Oduro, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, and Carter can be thanked for that.
It will be up to Oduro and Carter for the Friars to stay within striking distance in games against talented teams like Creighton. Will they be able to help Providence secure a home win here?
Here’s the problem with backing the Friars: they have no three-point shooting outside of Carter, and the Creighton Bluejays rank fourth in the nation in opponent two-point percentage. The Bluejays can sag off of every other Providence player, furthering their interior defensive presence even more. That is just a horrible combination for the Friars.
Providence also poses no threat on the offensive glass, pulling down merely 7.2 offensive rebounds per game on its home floor. As it is, Creighton doesn’t allow many second-chance opportunities, but the Bluejays’ job is made even easier when they play a non-threat on the O-Glass.
This is a great spot to snag the Bluejays to cover 1.5 points on the road; they are 5-2 against the spread away from CHI Health anyway!
Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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