NIT Final Four: Wisconsin vs. North Texas Picks, Predictions, Odds

It's been a fantastic postseason for Conference USA. The Florida Atlantic Owls made history by advancing to the Final Four, and CUSA has two of the four teams in the NIT Final Four too. The UAB Blazers will be taking part in the second Final Four game, while the North Texas Mean Green face the Wisconsin Badgers in the first Final Four game. North Texas is a short favorite by the CBB betting odds as the Mean Green were impressive on their way to Sin City with blowout wins over Alcorn State and Sam Houston State before knocking off Oklahoma State on the road in overtime last week.

The 2023 NIT Final Four will not take place in Madison Square Garden. The iconic venue has hosted the NIT since 1938 (save one iteration due to COVID), but it will be held in the desert this year. The Wisconsin Badgers and North Texas Mean Green will play at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Wisconsin has won its last two NIT games by a combined seven points. (Getty)

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Texas Mean Green Betting Prediction

Both Wisconsin and North Texas are led by their defense. These teams are ranked 22nd and 23rd in defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy, while their offenses are significantly further down the list. Additionally, North Texas plays at the slowest pace in the country, while Wisconsin ranks 342nd in tempo. That's why the total for this Final Four game is lower than any NCAA Tournament game we've seen this postseason. The Badgers have a ton of experience with low scoring games, and I'll roll with Wisconsin as a short underdog.

Best Bet: Wisconsin +2
Score Prediction: Wisconsin 60 North Texas 56

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Texas Mean Green Betting Odds

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Texas Mean Green Betting Resources

Date: Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2023
TV-Time: ESPN, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Orleans Arena
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Matchup
Expert Picks

Wisconsin Badgers vs. North Texas Mean Green Betting Stats

Wisconsin Badgers
SU: 20-14
ATS: 15-18
O/U: 17-17
PPG: 65.6
OPPG: 63.7

North Texas Mean Green
SU: 29-7
ATS: 21-14
O/U: 19-16
PPG: 64.6
OPPG: 55.7

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS), Over-Under (O/U)
Points Per Game (PPG), Opponents Points Per Game (OPPG)

Updated on 06/23/2024
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Wisconsin Badgers Betting Analysis

Unlike many teams in the country that have gone to four-guard lineups, Wisconsin still prefers to use big men. The Badgers have two players that are 6'9 or taller that are playing at least 30 MPG in Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl. Crowl leads the team with 12.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG as a seven-footer, and he is making 50.9% of his field goals. Meanwhile, Wahl is averaging 11.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG, but he hasn't been very efficient for a 6'9 forward as he is making just 41.7% of his field goals.

Wisconsin ranks first nationally in turnovers allowed on offense, turning the ball over on just 13.2% of its possessions. Unfortunately, the Badgers rank near the bottom of the pack in every other major offensive category. Their KenPom is chalk full of red when they have the ball as they rank in the bottom 25 teams nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and free throw attempts despite playing two big men for considerable minutes. They have moderate success shooting the three led by Chucky Hepburn (39.4%) and Max Klesmit (39.7%), but that's the only other positive thing to highlight with this offense.

The good news is that Wisconsin is strong in defense. Opponents are making just 31.7% of their threes against this team, and they effectively box out on defense. Their interior defense leaves something to be desired, but North Texas lacks size with Abou Ousmane likely out for the Final Four. Ousmane has missed the last two games with a personal matter, and UNT head coach Grant McCasland said that he doesn't expect Ousmane to return.

North Texas Mean Green Betting Analysis

North Texas has held all three of its NIT opponents under 60 points. (Getty)

We've seen the Mean Green respond well to the absence of Ousmane in their last two games, but Sam Houston State didn't have a lot of size and North Texas did struggle with a taller team in Oklahoma State in its last game. Ousmane is the tallest player on the Mean Green at 6'10, and he was averaging 11.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG. North Texas needs Moulaye Sissoko to be a major presence in the paint like he was against Oklahoma State when he finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive). Sissoko played in 31 games this season, but he averaged just 8.2 MPG and 2.2 PPG, and he set season highs with his performance against the Cowboys.

Tylor Perry is the leading scorer on North Texas with 17.3 PPG. Perry has scored 21 points or more in three straight games during UNT's NIT run, and he is hitting 41.9% of his threes on the year. He is the only quality perimeter shooter on the roster, so Wisconsin will be more than happy to let anyone else fire away from distance.

North Texas has the best scoring defense in the country. Teams are averaging just 55.7 PPG against the Mean Green with opponents making a scant 30% of their three-pointers and 44.4% of their two-point attempts against this team. Rubin Jones has quick hands and should force a turnover or two, but the absence of Ousmane does hurt this interior defense. The Mean Green have a problem getting into foul trouble too, and they send opponents to the line too often for such a good defense.