Game to be played at Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Michigan may be able to claim to be the Big Ten’s hottest team, but 23rd-ranked Wisconsin has made it clear no squad in the conference has played better over the last week. The second-seeded Badgers eye their second Big Ten tournament title in three years and fourth overall on Sunday, when they face the eighth-seeded Wolverines in the championship game in Washington D.C.
Wisconsin dropped five of six games to fall out of contention for the regular-season conference title, but it has flashed the same form over the last week – especially on defense – that allowed it to race out to a 21-3 start to the campaign. Following a 17-point home victory last Sunday over Minnesota in its regular-season finale, Wisconsin held Indiana’s league-best offense more than 20 points below its season average in Friday’s 70-60 quarterfinal triumph before limiting Northwestern to a season-low point total in a 76-48 semifinal rout the following day. Michigan shot 63.3 percent in the first half and led by as many as 16 points before settling for an 84-77 victory over Minnesota in Saturday’s other semifinal – its fourth straight win and ninth in 11 games. The Wolverines, who are the lowest seed to reach the conference tournament final since No. 10 seed Illinois did so in 2008, are seeking their first Big Ten championship since the inaugural event in 1998 – a title the school was forced to later vacate due to NCAA sanctions.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: The Badgers opened the Big Ten championship favored by one-point and have been bet up to the current number of -1.5. The total hit the board at 128 and was bet up to 128.5, before being bet down to the current number of 127.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT MICHIGAN: Derrick Walton Jr. (15 points, 4.7 assists) recorded 19 of his career-high 29 points – one shy of Trey Burke’s school record for a Big Ten tournament game – in the second half Saturday and either scored or assisted on 18 of his team’s final 20. Moritz Wagner (12.1 points), who registered 21 points in a meeting with Wisconsin on Feb. 16, poured in 17 on 6-for-7 shooting versus Minnesota after going 3-of-11 for 11 over his first two tournament games. Playing their fourth contest in as many days, the Wolverines likely will need more from their bench, which has produced only 28 of the team’s 233 points in this tournament.
ABOUT WISCONSIN: Ethan Happ (13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds) produced his highest-scoring output in six games with 16 points Saturday – uncharacteristically doing much of his damage from the free-throw line, where the sophomore forward was 8-of-11 after entering the game as a 47.5-percent foul shooter. Nigel Hayes (13.5 points, 6.4 boards) posted game highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds against Northwestern and was the only other Badger to attempt a free throw (2-of-4) but one of five to hit exactly two 3-pointers as the team finished with 12. Since going scoreless in a loss at Ohio State on Feb. 23, Zak Showalter (8.3 points) is averaging 12 points on 23-of-38 shooting, including 11-of-22 from beyond the arc.
* Michigan is 5-0 ATS in its last five neutral site games.
* Underdog is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings.
* Under is 5-1 in Michigan’s last six neutral site games as an underdog.
* Under is 9-1 in Wisconsin’s last 10 neutral site games.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The very early consensus is backing the underdog Wolverines, with 53 percent of wagers on Michigan. Click here for complete consensus analysis.