BANKER (Iowa vs. Wisconsin)
A little added juice here taking ML vs the -3/3.5 but I think that’s the way to play this. Wisconsin is a very solid team who has been playing their best ball as of late. They are coming off one of the more impressive wins of the season for any team after beating Purdue on the road earlier in the week. Wisconsin has played very well at home this year going 6-1 with their lone loss coming to a very good providence team.
Wisconsin has home wins including Marquette (13), Indiana (by 5), Texas AM (by 11), and also has notched impressive road wins over #12 Houston (by 2) and #3 Purdue (by 5). Wisconsin plays in a lot of close games due to their style of slowing the game down, playing lock down defense, and exhibiting all options on the offensive end before taking a quality shot. Wisconsin is 31st in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, 66th in 2-point percentage defense, and they will also have a height advantage as most positions in this game as well. Iowa is a very solid offensive team, but they have struggled against better competition and have also struggled on the road this season as well.
They are 1-2 in true road games with their lone win coming against a Virginia team where they almost blew a 20-point lead and needed a last second layup to win. Wisconsin has also played a much tougher schedule to this point compared to Iowa as well. Wisconsin has the 18th ranked hardest strength of schedule and Iowa only has the 260th ranked hardest schedule ranking them in the bottom 1/3rd of the country in that category. This is a big-time conference game, and it will be fun to watch Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray go at it as they are 2 of the top 3 scorers in the country but I have to give the edge to the home team in this matchup as I think Wisconsin’s defense will find ways to limit the Hawkeye’s potent offense. Score Prediction: 75-69 Wisconsin.
Montana is a very solid team out of the big sky conference out west and they are off to a 10-5 start and 3-1 conference start this season as well. Montana is a streaky team, but they are usually the most talented or top 3 most talented team in this conference. They face an Eastern Washington who has been playing better as of late winning 5 of their last 6 but I think they’re due to regress here. Montana is coming off of a very solid win over Weber state and I believe they will carry that momentum into this matchup with Eastern Washington who is very bad defensively.
Eastern Washington is 218th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, 261st in defensive TO%, and 120th in defensive effective FG%. Montana is also the more experienced team and I think that will help them come away with a road conference win here. Score Prediction: 78-74 Montana.
SMU has been a very solid team out of the American athletic conference and this year is no different as they are 11-3 including impressive wins over UNLV (by 19), Dayton (by 8), and UCF (by 12). They face a Cincy team who has the history of being very solid out of this conference, but they are having a down year this season. Cincinnati is 10-4 but they have played a very weak schedule. They have losses to Tulane, Monmouth, Xavier and Arkansas with their best win coming in a come from behind win vs Illinois. Cincinnati’s biggest problem is that they struggle to score. They are 272nd in offensive effective field goal percentage, 332nd in offensive 3-point percentage, and 162nd in overall adjusted offensive efficiency.
SMU isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, but they have performed very well this year on that end as they are 30th in the country in defensive effective FG% and 35th in defensive 2-point percentage. I think SMU will force Cincy into tough shots and their strong offense should be able to lead them to a win here. Score Prediction: 72-68 SMU.