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Wisconsin vs. Michigan betting preview

How will the Badgers fare in their first contest as an underdog?

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NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Lines and total are based on 9 a.m odds. For the latest odds, visit The Action Network.

The Wisconsin Badgers travel to the Big House to take on the Michigan Wolverines Saturday night. The primetime contest is essentially an elimination game when discussing possible College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six bowl implications. Each team badly needs this win, as two loses eliminates Wisconsin and probably Michigan as well, although the Wolverines do have more opportunities down the road.

The total for this match-up opened at 48 and currently sits at 49. The line for this game opened with Wisconsin a 6.5-point dog on Monday morning and has steadily risen to the Badgers getting 9.5 points in their first underdog contest. Its’ a pros vs. joes battle in line movement, as the public loves the Badgers, but the sharps (professional sports bettors) have hammered the Michigan side. The big money from the pros coming in on the Wolverines has caused a significant reverse line movement, which means the line moves away from the more popular bet. In order to help you decide which side you are on, here are some notable trends:

  • Wisconsin is 9–1–1 ATS in its last 11 contests with Michigan.
  • Wisconsin is 6–1 ATS in its last seven games on the road.
  • Wisconsin is 4–1 ATS as a road team under Paul Chryst.
  • In Wisconsin’s eight losses under Chryst, only one has been by more than a touchdown
  • Michigan is 5–1 ATS in its last six home games.
  • Michigan is 16–2 SU in its last 18 games at home.
  • Michigan is 5–7 against ranked teams under Jim Harbaugh, 4–3 at home.
  • The total has gone under in eight of the last 12 meetings between Michigan and Wisconsin.

While there are a lot of notable trends one could look at, two really stand out to me in this one.

The first is the fourth bullet, which talks about Wisconsin’s losses under Chryst. In the Badgers’ eight losses, only one has been by more than seven points, which you can take with a grain of salt as it was Chryst’s coaching debut at Wisconsin against eventual national champion Alabama. What i’m trying to say is Chryst doesn’t usually lose by more than a touchdown, and I trust him in this spot way more than Harbaugh.

That brings me to my next point. Michigan is always hyped up going in, yet tends to lay an egg against ranked teams. While this is the best Wolverine team Harbaugh’s had, I still don’t trust him to cover that spread in spots like this until he proves me otherwise.

The Pick: Wisconsin (+9.5)

Look, the sharps and the national media love Michigan in this spot—but sometimes, you’ve got to trust your gut, fade the big players, and side with the public. While a lot of people are on the Wolverines, I trust Chryst. It’s clear he keeps it close even when the result isn’t what he wants, and I don’t expect anything different here. Call me crazy, but I also trust Alex Hornibrook on the road from what I saw against a tough Iowa team and crowd. Giving the Badgers nine points against a team like Michigan seems like way too much. I don’t expect oddsmakers to let it get to 10, but if it does, you’d be getting extreme value in Wisconsin.

Also, it’s not like the Badgers are going up against an aggressive coach in Harbaugh. The Wolverines’ style of play is ultra-conservative and they’re more than happy to win this game with their defense. Tempo will be slow and opportunities will be limited. If the Badgers can strike against the top-ranked Michigan defense—which I believe they can—I see no reason why Wisconsin can’t win this game outright or at least keep it within the closing number.

I have not touched on the total much in this projection, simply because I think you’d be crazy to play anything other than the under. It’s been a slugfest each time these two teams have matched up under their respective coaches. With the style of play these teams possess on both sides, you’d be bold to bet otherwise. However, I’ve seen crazier things happen.