3 Reasons Why Wisconsin Is A Great Bet To Win The Big Ten Tournament

The Badgers have a ton of upside and are peaking at the right time

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  • The Michigan State Spartans have gotten a lot of buzz due to their recent play and their tournament pedigree, making them FanDuel’s pick to win the Big Ten Tournament at +320 odds. But FanDuel’s oddsmakers are overlooking a team that’s even hotter than Michigan State: the Wisconsin Badgers (+900).

  • In fact, the Badgers clinched the Big Ten regular season title and top seed in the tournament with a win at Indiana on Saturday. It improved the No. 24 ranked Badgers’ record to 21-10 overall and 14-6 in the Big Ten. They owned the tiebreaker over both Michigan and Michigan State. Here are three reasons why the Badgers will win the Big Ten Tournament this week.

  • The Badgers are the best bet to win the Big Ten tournament (+900 on FanDuel). The Badgers are peaking at the right time and have won eight games in a row and nine of their last 10 and even clinched first place in the tournament with a win at Indiana on Saturday. Wisconsin has the best defense in the Big Ten and they’ll use it to their advantage. 

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1. They’re The Hottest Team In The Conference

Wisconsin is playing better than anyone else in the Big Ten right now. They have won eight-straight games and nine of their last 10. That run includes home wins over Ohio State, Rutgers, Purdue, and Michigan State, as well as road wins over Michigan, Nebraska and Indiana. The Badgers also have wins over Maryland and Penn State this season. 

While the Badgers are peaking at the right time, some of their main rivals are not. Maryland, who has been leading most of the season, has lost three of their last four, falling to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Rutgers. And Illinois has gone 4-5 down the stretch. Ohio State and Michigan State are playing well, but Wisconsin has beaten both of them on this late-season surge. 

2. Defense Wins Championships

The old adage “defense wins championships” is often said in reference to football, but it applies in college basketball, too. Last year, the team with the best defense, in terms of points allowed, Virginia, won the championship. This year, if you look at the top 10 teams in points allowed, the list includes Virginia (1), San Diego State (3), Baylor (4), and Kansas (6). It reads like a who’s who of the top 25. 

Wisconsin shows up on that list at No. 15, which is the highest ranking among Big Ten teams. They give up 62.4 points per game. For context, against the highest scoring team in the Big Ten, Iowa, which is 19th in the country at 77.8 points per game, they only gave up 62 points in their last meeting. Against Michigan State, the 39th highest scoring team in the country with 75.8 points per game, the Badgers only gave up 63 points in a 64-63 win on February 1. 

3: They Fight Through Adversity

This season has been filled with adversity for the Badgers. Over the summer, assistant coach Hioward Moore lost his wife and daughter in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Moore suffered major injuries and is not coaching this year.

Then, about a month ago, one of the Badgers best players, starting guard Kobe King, left the team saying it wasn’t the right fit for him as a player or a person. He later announced he was transferring to Nebraska. Around the same time, strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland resigned after being placed on administrative leave by the school for disciplinary reasons. At the time the Badgers were 5-5 in the Big Ten. 

While all this could have torn them apart, it had the effect of bringing them together and creating tremendous team unity and sense of purpose. That unity is a powerful force within a locker room and it has helped the Badgers rattle off nine wins in the 10 games since King left. 

It’s all there for the taking in the Big Ten as there are a lot of very good teams, but no great teams.

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