Minnesota Golden Gophers
(11-1, 6-6 ATS)
(10-2, 5-3 ATS)
The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers are in for a real treat on Tuesday, as the two meet up at the Kohl Center in the Big Ten opener for both teams. These two squads both have Top 25 rankings after great seasons out of conference, but only one can prove triumphant on the NCAA basketball odds on Tuesday.
With a healthy Devoe Joseph back in the lineup, Head Coach Tubby Smith has himself a heck of a starting five. Joseph has averaged 11.8 points per game and already has 20 assists in just six games since coming back into the fold this year. Blake Hoffarber is the team’s leading scorer and assist man at 13.9 points and 5.0 helpers per night, and he is expected to really lead the way on Tuesday. Ralph Sampson III is averaging 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and he has 26 blocked shots as well, but the man on the inside to keep an eye on is Trevor Mbakwe, who is the team’s leader in boards with 9.8 per night. He also has the second best scoring average at 13.2 points per game. Minnesota might have to worry just a tad about its defense, which is giving up an average of 68.2 points per game. The good news is that the men on the inside are really doing a fine job, holding foes to just 30.9 boards per game, ten fewer than what the Gophers are averaging themselves.
As always, Badger basketball revolves around playing sound, fundamental defense and taking the air out of the ball and the game. Wisky is only allowing 54.1 points per game this year, ranking No. 5 in the entire country. There have only been two teams score in the 60s on this team since a December 20th loss to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, and that includes holding two teams in the 40s and on, the Manhattan Jaspers, to just 35 points. Offensively, Jon Leuer is really leading the way and setting himself up to be a superstar in the Big Ten. He is averaging 19.8 points and 7.3 boards per game, and he is shooting 50.9 percent from the field and almost as well from downtown. In the backcourt, he relies on Jordan Taylor to be a sparkplug. Not only does Taylor lead the team with 57 assists this year, but he is also the second leading scoring at 15.4 points per game. These two are the only men that are averaging double digits in scoring, and it is clear that, if either has an off night at any step of the way in the Big Ten, the Badgers are in trouble.
This is just too many points for the Badgers to be laying on the college basketball odds. Yes, they’ll probably win this game, but the Golden Gophers should be able to stick around, especially if either Leuer or Taylor doesn’t have a shooting touch. The pace of this game just doesn’t warrant a near double digit victory for either side.
NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers +8