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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM

If you only casually follow college basketball through big time telecasts and studio shows, you’ve probably heard often this year that Wisconsin has a chance to reach the Final Four this year…if only their inconsistent offense was as good as their fantastic defense.

People have been saying that about Wisconsin for years. It’s the default analytical spin whenever the team is playing well under this head coach.

The problem is…it’s BACKWARDS!

Wisconsin plays very slowly on offense…preferring to run a lot of clock before taking a good shot. They figure this will wear down defenses over a possession…and over a full game of possessions…allowing them to get the best of it over time. All of this clock running leads to low scoring games. When casual fans see low scores, they assume great defense and no offense.

*Wisconsin currently ranks #3 in the nation on OFFENSE if you look at scoring on a per-possession basis. Working patiently for a good shot WORKS! Particularly when a lot of those shots are open looks at treys. Wisconsin doesn’t have a bad offense. Wisconsin has a terrific offense that provides a stiff challenge to defenses.

*Wisconsin currently ranks a disappointing #61 in the nation on DEFENSE on a per-possession basis. They actually aren’t that great at guarding teams who know what they’re doing. You may remember that from their home loss to Duke. Their defense looked awful. But, that can get hidden on the scoreboard over time because the offense does so much to shorten games.

Keep that in mind as you watch the Iowa/Wisconsin game tonight on ESPN…and as you handicap the rest of the Big 10 and tournament slates. Wisconsin plays slow, which helps them maximize efficiency on offense while hiding a soft defense. Wisconsin doesn’t have a great defense by Big Dance standards.

Time to handicap! Let’s go to JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats for tonight’s Iowa/Wisconsin matchup…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Iowa: 110.7 per 100 possessions (#30 in the nation)

Wisconsin: 120.6 per 100 possessions (#3 in the nation)

Wisconsin has the better offense, though both are top 30. Iowa has enjoyed some good results this season…with a sweep of Ohio State and a road victory over North Carolina back during the Big 10-ACC challenge. Wisconsin’s long range proficiency and tendency to wear down defenses make them particularly lethal in low possession games. There’s not much time to catch up if you fall behind.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Iowa: 95.6 per 100 possessions (#74 in the nation)

Wisconsin: 94.9 per 100 possessions (#61 in the nation)

We already talked about the Badgers. Very bad news there for Iowa. How did these guys sweep Ohio State? Iowa has had some disappointing results vs. quality this year as well…losing recently to ranked Iowa State and Northern Iowa, along with well-regarded Michigan State. Edge to Wisconsin on both sides of the ball, which is why they’re the betting favorite.


Pace Ranking

Iowa: #162

Wisconsin: #334

Big difference in pace, as Wisconsin is on the extremely slow end of the spectrum. Iowa is very close to the national average…which means they’ll be dragged out of their comfort zone here. Ohio State and North Carolina are much faster teams…and Iowa had some success at tempo. There will be no tempo here as long as the home team controls the flow (which it usually does). Very tough matchup for Iowa based on what we’ve seen so far this season.


Against the Spread

Iowa: 7-7

Wisconsin: 10-7-1

Wisconsin has been a money-maker. Though, there was a reminder of what happens then their treys aren’t falling recently against Rutgers. The Badgers were 15-point favorites and lost outright 67-62 because they could only manage 5 of 21 on treys. That soft Wiscy defense let Rutgers shoot 20 of 35 on two-pointers! Clearly, Iowa needs to be patient and work for easy inside baskets while hoping Wisconsin isn’t hot from long range. Otherwise, the Badgers will control their own destiny.

JIM HURLEY is definitely looking very closely at Iowa/Wisconsin as a service play. But, there are many other possibilities on the Tuesday card, including some nice matchups in the SEC and Kansas State/Iowa State in the Big 12. You can purchase the final word for Tuesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask how you can include the Super Bowl in any basketball package.

College hoops coverage in the NOTEBOOK continues tomorrow with a look at potential Dance sleepers from the Missouri Valley Conference. Both Wichita State and Northern Iowa are in action, hoping to protect their poll rankings. Here’s what’s ahead this week…

Wednesday: Notes on ranked Missouri Valley powers Wichita State and Northern Iowa

Thursday: College Basketball Preview…Arizona at Stanford

Friday: College Hoops Early Look…Kansas at Texas

Saturday: College Basketball Preview…to be determined

Sunday: NBA Preview…Oklahoma City Thunder at the Cleveland Cavaliers (Durant vs. LeBron!)

A great week of baskets ahead as we continue to build bankroll for New England vs. Seattle in the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of February. Get handicapping tips here in the NOTEBOOK, and BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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