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Wisconsin football vs. Indiana betting preview

Can the Badgers cover as double digit favorites in their return to action?

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last time out the Wisconsin Badgers struggled at Northwestern and we’re unable to cover the spread as road favorites. The game was such a disaster that the total never even sniffed the over, so unfortunately for us the column went 0-2. That feels like an eternity ago, and now the Badgers return back to the field to take on the Indiana Hooisers.

The spread for this contest opened with the Badgers as a 10.5 point favorites but quickly shot to 14 when the injury to Hooisers starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was confirmed. The total for this game opened at 50.5 points, but has also moved down to just 45 for this contest.

We’ll dive into both of those numbers but first here are some notable trends for both teams. If you’re looking for the latest odds on this contest, be sure to check out Sports Betting Dime for the latest game odds.

  • Wisconsin is 15-18-1 ATS as a home favorite under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 9-6 ATS after a loss under Paul Chryst
  • Wisconsin is 6-4 ATS after a bye under Paul Chryst
  • Indiana is 8-4 ATS as a road underdog under Tom Allen
  • Indiana is 11-9-1 ATS against ranked opponents under Tom Allen
  • Indiana is 6-0 ATS in 2020
Maryland v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ATS Pick: Indiana (+14)

If you look at the trends above there is not much to go off of in this contest. Paul Chryst is a covering machine on the road, but at home his numbers are not as great. Often times the Badgers win the game and do not cover. As you can see above, Tom Allen does a good job of getting his teams to cover especially in 2020 as the Hooisers are the only team to cover every contest outside of some PAC-12 and Mountain West teams that have not played a ton of games.

The injury to Penix is significant but I don’t expect as much of a drop off to Jack Tuttle. Tuttle was a 4-star quarterback out of high school and actually ranked higher in the recruiting rankings than Penix. You of course have to take that with a grain of salt, but it is something to consider.

Another thing to consider here is Indiana is in play for a very strong betting trend. Road underdogs with low totals is a highly profitable trend to bet. Low totals benefit underdogs because oddsmakers expect fewer points to be scored. If fewer points are scored generally you have tighter, closer games and it makes it more difficult for big favorites to cover the spread.

According to BetLabs road underdogs with low totals have covered the spread 59% of the time going 377-260-13. That is a 15% ROI, so you can see why this system play is strong for many bettors. That coupled with Indiana being a covering machine makes me thing its just too many points for the Badgers to cover.

Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Over/Under? Under 45 (Be careful)

Let me preface this, I almost always bet with the picks I put in here. If I am giving advice on how to bet money I like to put my money where my mouth is and back it up. HOWEVER, I would not touch this total right now. Yes, this is a betting column and we have to talk about it but I think there is just way too many unknown variables in this contest to feel confident about it one way or the other. The spread you’ve got plenty of data points, but here you are lurking in unknown waters.

The over has cashed in four of Indiana’s six games and two of the Badgers three contests. However, that was Indiana with Michael Penix Jr. and Wisconsin against two putrid defenses in Illinois and Michigan. When the Badgers faced a defense with a pulse things got ugly. Indiana ranks No. 18 in total defense and Wisconsin ranks No. 1 so you’ve got two units that are really strong on that side of the ball. Add in that Indiana is starting a quarterback with only 16 career pass attempts, and Wisconsin is still starting a redshirt freshman with two key receivers questionable and the numbers say under.

However, one thing to consider here is turnovers. With totals this low one mistake can put you in a real sweat for under bettors. Indiana is averaging three turnovers per game defensively and they’ve scored 58 points off of those turnovers. 29% of their points comes from turnovers. Wisconsin handed it over five times last time out, and Indiana could certainly be bit by that bug with Tuttle under center. By that accord the numbers say over.

Here is my advice. If you are going to bet this wait until Saturday and see the status of Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor. If those guys are in I feel more comfortable with an over, but if they are out the under is probably right here.