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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM

A lot of big name programs are suffering road losses where party animal college kids are storming the court afterward. So, it’s far from the end of the world that Wisconsin lost at Maryland a week ago. But, that poor performance did raise some questions about whether or not the Badgers are ready to thrive away from their home court through March.

Can Wisconsin string together neutral court wins vs. GOOD teams in March if they couldn’t survive inconsistent Maryland?

Thursday night brings another interesting test when Wisconsin visits Minnesota. Right now, the Gophers aren’t a Dance-bound team. They have been priced with Dance-level respect in their home games, but are only 6-10 in the league. A home win over Purdue, and a home overtime loss to Ohio State suggest Minnesota can hang with Wisconsin. Obviously, FIRED UP Minnesota trying to salvage their season would have a chance to beat the version of Wisconsin that showed up at Maryland.

If Wisconsin loses again…then the Big 10 tournament may be more wide open than many are thinking…and this popular pick for a Final Four spot may be a larger pretender than the median imagines. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about Badgers/Gophers.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Wisconsin: 122.3 per 100 possessions (#1 in the nation)

Minnesota: 109.4 per 100 possessions (#39 in the nation)

As you regular readers know, Wisconsin has the most efficient offense in the nation. They had some shooting troubles at Maryland that led to their upset. Generally speaking, nobody is better at working the ball for a good shot and nailing it. Minnesota is like Wisconsin in that they’re much better on this side of the ball than on defense. They just haven’t been able to do enough to outscore what their defense allows in league action.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Wisconsin: 94.9 per 100 possessions (#46 in the nation)

Minnesota: 97.5 per 100 possessions (#80 in the nation)

The rankings above tell you why Minnesota is looking at the NIT or a smaller event, and why Wisconsin will have trouble making a serious run at the Final Four unless they shoot lights out round by round. The Badgers barely have a top 50 defense. That should set up an entertaining game for TV viewers…with both offenses able to find success against both defenses.


Pace Ranking

Wisconsin: #345

Minnesota: #49

This is where Minnesota has a fighting chance. The home team usually has more control over the pace of a game. If they can pull Wisconsin out of its comfort zone and force turnovers or bad shots, then an upset becomes likely rather than just possible. A real battle of extremes here, with a top 50 sprinter hosting a bottom 50 plodder.


Against the Spread

Wisconsin: 14-14

Minnesota: 11-14-1

Minnesota was supposed to be better than 6-10 this deep in the Big 10 season…which is why they show up as overrated in market terms. They’ve been a disappointment. Wisconsin has had to deal with high lines all season, so a break-even mark isn’t really a strike against them. It’s hard for media powers to consistently top high expectations because they have to play nearly perfectly every game.

Given the full Thursday schedule, JIM HURLEY will more likely be watching this game as a scout rather than a bettor. Selections in next week’s Big 10 tournament will be influenced by what he learns tonight! The Thursday card has several strong possibilities in small conferences, and in mid-major tournament action from the Missouri Valley, Metro-Atlantic, and Ohio Valley conferences. NETWORK clients only get BEST BETS!

You can purchase the final word for Thursday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about full season packages that take you through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs when you call.

We have three more days of regular season action left. Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule for the final weekend, plus the first few days of major conference tournament action…

Friday: Early Look…Kansas at Oklahoma in the Big 12

Saturday: College Basketball…Duke at North Carolina in the ACC.

Sunday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Ohio State in the Big 10

Monday: ACC Tournament Preview…begins Tuesday in Greensboro

Tuesday: Pac 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday in Las Vegas

Wednesday: Big 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday night in Kansas City

Thursday: Big 10 Tournament Preview…begins Thursday in Chicago

You’ll have a bit of lead time for the ACC and Pac 12. Then, we’ll go with game-day previews in the Big 12 and Big 10. We left out the SEC because Kentucky is such a prohibitive favorite. If something changes in that regard, we’ll include the Wildcats in a big-game preview over championship weekend.

The buzz has been building for weeks…and now it’s almost time for EVERYONE to start talking about college basketball. Stay ahead of the curve with BIG, JUICY WINNERS that will help you PILE UP THE PROFITS from now through the Final Four! You’re going to GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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