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The Wisconsin Badgers covered easily in their 35-14 rout over the Michigan Wolverines, and the late score from the Wolverines pushed the total over 43. Thankfully, we were on the right side of the spread once again, but the under failed to cash.
This week, the Badgers and Northwestern Wildcats come into a Big Ten match-up facing very different beginnings. The Badgers are 3-0 SU and against the spread (ATS), while Northwestern comes in 1-2 and 0-3 ATS. It’s been a rocky start for the Wildcats, but despite that, they have had the Badgers’ number in recent years, winning three of the last five.
Wisconsin opened as a 21-point favorite, but the number was quickly bet up to 24 and has continued to rise steadily over the course of the week. As of writing, the number still sits at 24, but with Wisconsin receiving 67% of the bets there is little doubt this number will move further.
The total opened up at 44 but has also risen over the course of the week. At one point, the over was getting 98% of the bets which continued to push the number higher and higher. I think both numbers are very intriguing, and we’ll dive into why, but first here are some notable trends for this match up.
- Wisconsin is 5-1 ATS in their last six games
- Wisconsin is 5-1 SU in their last six games against Northwestern at home
- Wisconsin is 4-6 ATS vs. Northwestern in their last ten meetings
- Northwestern is 4-1 ATS in their last five games against Wisconsin
- Northwestern is 1-5 ATS in their last six games
- Northwestern is 13-5 ATS in their last 18 Big Ten contests
- Northwestern is 31-16 ATS as a road underdog since 2006
- The total has gone under in 5 of the last six meetings between these two teams
ATS Pick: Northwestern (+24)
I know, it’s sad, but all things must come to an end.
Wisconsin is 3-0 ATS to start the season, and we’ve been on the right side of it each week, but I think the betting market is starting to catch onto Wisconsin. The public loves the Badgers this week which usually means its time to fade. I have a lot of confidence in the Badgers winning this game, but I think the value lies in Northwestern covering the spread.
Part of my reasoning is the trend above. Northwestern is 31-16 ATS as a road underdog since Pat Fitzgerald took over as Head Coach. Say what you want about the team in 2019, but the Wildcats cover 66% of the time on the road as a dog. That. I believe, couples well with the fact that Wisconsin is getting a lot of attention in the betting market. Eventually, there has to be some buyback on the Badgers, and I think this could be that week.
The projected line from some very respected handicappers I follow is right around 16-18 points. That means you’re getting almost a touchdown of added value with betting the Wildcats to cover. Additionally, you’re paying a six to seven point luxury tax if you’re wanting to lay points with the Badgers. Given that, plus Jonathan Taylor’s struggles against Northwestern, I am going to take the buyback opportunity with Northwestern. Wisconsin wins the game, but I think Northwestern does enough to keep it within the 24.
Over/Under? Under 46
To be frank, I don’t like either side of this total. I could see Wisconsin scoring 46 itself, and I could see Northwestern slowing the attack down and this being a slug-fest game that is really never close, but also never a blowout.
Wisconsin currently ranks first in the country in total defense, and Northwestern ranks No. 43. However, that ranking is inflated after Northwestern’s 31-10 loss to Michigan State. NU hasn’t done much on offense, but, overall, the Northwestern defense has been alright. Additionally, Jonathan Taylor has had two of his worst career games against the Wildcats. He’s been held under 100 yards in each contest with Northwestern. I don’t know what Pat Fitzgerald does schematically to slow him, but he’s been the only coach that has found a way to keep the clamps on him.
To me, this total is really hard to gauge, and I would stay away from it. However, if you have to bet it, I would play the under for those reasons. I expect a 28-10 type of game where the Badgers have it in hand most of the game, but it’s a little tighter than you’d like which is often the case against Northwestern.