Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
Big Ten Tournament – Madison Square Gardens – New York, New York.
12:00 PM EST. The Terrapins have been regressing for weeks and it all came to a head in a humiliating home loss to Michigan at home last Saturday. A 5-0 start to the season was long forgotten by the time the final buzzer sounded on that 85-61 beat down on senior day. That lopsided result might seem like an outlier, as it came on the heels of back-to-back wins, but we're not going to get too excited about victories over Rutgers and Northwestern who have a combined nine conference wins between them this season. We've read that the 24-point blowout to the Wolverines was the "best" thing to happen to coach Mark Turgeon's crew before this conference tournament, but we could not disagree more. You don't just turn a switch, and we're not going to forgive that pitiful effort at home on one of the biggest nights of the year for any program. It would be one thing if the 'Terps fought and just came up short, but instead, they were lifeless from the beginning and did not provide any pushback. For a bubble team, that win over a top-25 opponent would have gone a long way to making a case for an at-large bid to the NCAA's, but now Maryland finds itself back at the starting line with its only shot at a dance card coming by way of a Big Ten tournament championship. Maryland's best Big Ten win this season came at home to Penn State in early January, while its best non-conference win was against Butler in November. The Nittany Lions were the only “in” team in the conference that the 'Terps beat that didn't have a losing record, as PSU was 9-9 in Big Ten play.
The Badgers have been the class of this conference for years after making the finals of this tournament three of the last five seasons. Wisconsin took a big step back this season after losing in last year's Sweet Sixteen for the fourth straight time. The Badgers have been to an incredible 19-straight NCAA Tournaments, but are in danger of missing this year's dance after being forced to rebuild in the wake of losing four starters from last year's squad. Despite the disappointing 7-11 record in conference, the Badgers have been playing pretty well lately. Wisky has put up at least 70 points in four of their last six games while finishing the season at 4-2. They have also held their final four opponents (Purdue, Minnesota, Northwestern and Michigan State) to an average of 15.8 points below their season scoring averages. Although its regular season ended in defeat, Wisconsin has to be encouraged that they went toe-to-toe with #2 Michigan State, proving they can hang with the big boys of the Big Ten. Wisconsin also scheduled tough like they always do, competing against the 24th most difficult sked in the nation according to KenPom. Wisconsin fell to some quality programs this season like Xavier, Baylor, UCLA, Virginia, Temple and Marquette, but should be well served for going up against the best schools that would play it. With the Badgers stock at a near two-decade low, we are looking to buy stock in this proven postseason performer. It's unlikely the Badgers will win this tournament, but they can certainly make some noise. Unlike the 'Terps, the Badgers were never in the hunt for an at-large bid which means they've been laser-focused on this trip to New York City for quite some time. With Wisky playing its best ball of the season, we're calling the upset.
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#555 Wisconsin +124 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.48)