It’s the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis as the Big Ten takes on the Pac-12 on the hardwood in an island paradise. The Wisconsin Badgers are the “road” program here as they take on the USC Trojans Friday afternoon. Wisconsin went to the wire but ended up falling 69-68 in overtime to #3 Kansas in their semifinal matchup Thursday afternoon though they covered as a 7.5-point underdog. USC battled but ended up losing 73-66 to #22 Tennessee in their semifinal matchup Thursday afternoon though they covered as an 8.5-point underdog. In the all-time series between the programs, the Trojans won the only previous matchup, taking an 86-67 home victory back on December 29, 1982.
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Wisconsin Badgers Try to Shake Off Heartbreaking LossWisconsin showed a ton of grit as they rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half against #3 Kansas to force overtime. The Badgers led in the dying seconds of the extra session only to end up falling short to drop to 4-1 on the year. Against Kansas, Wisconsin struggled in the opening half, trailing 33-20 at intermission. The deficit reached 41-26 with 15:46 to play and was 60-52 with 3:40 remaining in regulation before the Badgers closed regulation on an 11-3 run. During overtime, the teams traded the lead with the Badgers leading in the closing seconds, only to give up the winning bucket with 0.2 seconds remaining to take the loss. Wisconsin shot 38.7% from the floor, including six of 19 from beyond the arc, and lost the rebounding battle 50-35 in the game. Tyler Wahl led the Badgers with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
The Badgers are 347th in the nation in scoring offense this season as they are putting up an average of 62.4 points per game. Wisconsin grabs 37.6 rebounds per contest and hands out 9.6 assists per game. The Badgers are 5th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 53 points a night. Tyler Wahl leads the Badgers as he averages 14 points plus 7.4 boards a night on the season. Chucky Hepburn (8.2 points, four boards, 2.6 assists), Jordan Davis (6.4 points, 4.8 boards) and Steven Crowl (8.6 points, 7.2 rebounds) are good secondary options. Max Klesmit, Connor Essegian, Markus Ilver, Carter Gilmore, Jahcobi Neath and Kamari McGee all are called upon for key minutes and contributions for the Badgers. Wisconsin shoots just 36.1% from the floor as a team this season. The Badgers sink 7.4 three-pointers a game while hitting 33.3% from beyond the arc. Wisconsin is converting 75.3% of their attempts at the free throw line this year.
USC Trojans Hoping to Bounce Back After OT DefeatUSC saw their four-game win streak snapped as they were unable to put points on the board down the stretch. The Trojans fell to 4-2 on the season with the loss and hope to get back in the win column by prevailing in this contest. Against Tennessee, USC was in a back-and-forth affair the whole way as neither team led by more than eight in the game. The Trojans were down three at the half, rallied to lead by four with under four minutes to play before ending up in overtime. In the extra session, the game was tied with 2:09 to play but USC gave up the game’s final seven points to wind up on the short end of the stick. USC shot 45% from the floor, including five of 15 from three-point range, and lost the game at the line as they were seven of eight compared to Tennessee’s 22 of 26 showing. Boogie Ellis led the Trojans with 21 points and four assists in the loss.
The Trojans average 74.5 points per game on the season, putting them 132nd in the nation in scoring offense. USC comes into this one grabbing 38.7 rebounds a night while they dish out 14.7 assists a night. The Trojans are above average on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 162nd by allowing 68.7 points per game this season. Drew Peterson is one of three players averaging in double figures for the Trojans this season with 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Boogie Ellis (18.5 points), Joshua Morgan (9.2 points, 6.8 boards) and Reese Dixon-Waters (9.3 points) are solid secondary scoring options. Tre White, Malik Thomas, Kobe Johnson, Harrison Hornery, Kijani Wright and Oziyah Sellers are all averaging solid minutes for coach Andy Enfield this season. USC shoots 46.5% from the field as a team this season. The Trojans drill 5.2 three-pointers per game while shooting 29.5% from beyond the arc. USC is mediocre at the line as they shoot 69.6% at the stripe as a team this season.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Two teams that suffered tough losses lock up with third place hanging in the balance here. Wisconsin has really struggled to shoot the ball and things simply haven’t gotten better in the first two games of the tournament. The Badgers have just one player averaging in double figures and with their poor shooting, it puts a lot of pressure on Greg Gard’s team to make plays defensively. USC battled with Tennessee and had their chances to put the Volunteers away before falling in overtime. Ellis and Peterson are capable of putting up big numbers on any given night. That duo is enough to lead USC to a victory here to close the tournament with a victory.
Full-Game Total Pick
Wisconsin has seen the under go 3-2 in their five games on the year. The Badgers stand 10th in defensive efficiency, 10th in effective field goal percentage defense (39.5%) and 1st in the nation by holding opposing teams to a pathetic 17.8% shooting from beyond the arc. Wisconsin is a slow-paced offensive team as they enter the game 321st in the nation in adjusted tempo according to KenPom with 65.6 possessions a night. USC has seen the over hit in four of their six games in regard to the total this season. The Trojans are 86th in adjusted tempo according to KenPom with 70.9 possessions a game but they are turnover prone as well. USC is 275th in turnover percentage by coughing the ball up on 21.4% of their possessions. Those numbers kind of offset the fact that they are 76th in two-point shooting (54.2%) this season. The team that dictates the tempo likely dictates the total. With USC being the choice here, this one winds up just over the number.