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Betting preview: Wisconsin vs. Purdue

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Can the Badgers cover the spread in their final home game of 2019?

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NCAA Football: Purdue at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you or someone you know might have a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Hotline confidentially at 1-800-522-4700. Odds and figures based on November 20, 2019. For current odds, visit The Action Network.

The Badgers went on the road and picked up an important W against the Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday. They were able to cover the spread despite making us sweat, but the poor defensive effort from both sides made the over cash fairly easily. That means a 1-1 mark on the week, which puts the column at 13-7 on the year.

This week the Badgers return home to close out the home season against the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue has had a tough year in 2019, and the spread in this game seems to reflect that as it appears to be a little over-inflated. This game opened at 21.5 in favor of Wisconsin, but has quickly risen to as much as 25 over the course of the week. The total for this game opened at 48 and has remained there for much of the week. We’ll take a look at both of those numbers, but first some notable trends on these two teams.

  • Wisconsin is 13-0 straight up in its last 13 contests with Purdue
  • Wisconsin is 10-4-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 15 contests played in November
  • Purdue is 5-1 ATS in its last six games
  • Purdue is 2-11 ATS in its last 13 contests with Wisconsin
  • The total has gone under in 5 of Wisconsin’s last seven games
  • The total has gone under in 12 of Purdue’s last 14 games

ATS Pick: Wisconsin (-24.5)

I personally think the biggest difference between a pro sports bettor and your average Joe sports bettor is the ability to not be overly influenced by recency bias. Too often Joe sports bettors see the results from one week and bet based on that inclination, instead of looking at the body of the work for the season. That applies in this game as well. At the start of the week I thought Purdue would cover simply because of how poor the Badgers defense looked at times last week. However, after some research and data collection I see some real mismatches in this game.

The main difference I see in this game is the havoc rating for both teams. Wisconsin is no. 2 in the country in Havoc Rating which measures the defensive ability to defend passes, force turnovers, and create tackles for loss. On the other side, Purdue is 109th in Havoc allowed. In Layman’s terms, that means Wisconsin’s defense is great at forcing issues, while the Purdue offense is prone to play into those issues. Purdue has turned the ball over 20 times this season, which ranks 112th in turnover’s lost. Obviously injuries have played a major role in that, but when you look at a spread this big that’s important to note.

Yes, the spread is inflated as I projected this at 21. However, if you account for the possible turnovers and short field position, this number appears a lot more realistic than you might think, so I am rolling with the Badgers in this one.

Over/Under? Over 48

This number is interesting when you look at the fact that Purdue is on their third string quarterback in this game. Walk-on Aidan O’Connell has taken over under center, and he put together a decent game last week against Northwestern. To me, I think the total is a little low when you consider the fact that Jeff Brohm loves to throw the football, no matter the quarterback.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue
Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Pass-happy offenses hurt unders simply because the clock continues to stop. That, coupled with the fact that Wisconsin should run the ball with ease against the Boilermakers, leads me to lean over in this contest. I think Purdue will score some points, but I really think the Badgers have a mismatch running the ball. And, as mentioned above, I think the defense could really give the offense some favorable spots to score quickly, so I am taking the over in this contest.