NCAA Basketball Michigan Wolverines (11-12, 10-9 ATS) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-8, 9-12 ATS), Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Thursday, Feb. 11th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Gophers -8 1/2/Wolverines +8 1/2
The Minnesota Gophers find themselves in a near must-win situation when they host one the most disappointing teams not just in the Big 10, but in the country, this season in the Michigan Wolverines Thursday night at The Barn on the U of M campus in Minneapolis.
Most sportsbooks opened this game with Minnesota favored by 8 points, with a total of 127 . And while the line has held steady in early betting action, the total has been bumped at most places to 128. The Gophers are also giving about -425 on most college basketball betting moneylines, with Michigan getting around +325.
Much was expected of Michigan this season, with four starters back for the program’s third season under Coach Beilein. The Wolverines began the year ranked 15th in the AP top 25. But they stumbled though an unimpressive 6-5 non-conference slate. They then started 3-2 in Big 10 play. But after beating Connecticut in a non-con bout Jan. 17, Michigan has won just one of its last six games. Over the course of their last two outings, a 15-point loss to Northwestern and an 18-point defeat at the hands of Wisconsin, the Wolverines shot just 34-of-91 from the field, and they got outrebounded 56-39.
Minnesota went 9-3 through its non-con slate, which was a bit on the soft side, then started its Big 10 schedule by winning of three of four games. But they hit a tough stretch in mid-January, losing by seven points at Michigan State, in overtime at Indiana and by one point to the Spartans at home. The Gophers have since won two of three, after beating Penn State Saturday 66-64 on a Lawrence Westbrook buzzer-beater.
So at 5-5 in conference play Minnesota is the six seed in the Big 10, while Michigan, at 4-7, is the eight.
On the season the Wolverines are shooting just 41% from the field, only 29% from 3-point range, which ranks last in the Big 10, but 72% from the FT line. And they haven’t topped the 60-point mark since that win over UConn six games ago. Defensively Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 44% from the floor, and they’re getting outrebounded by 3.7 RPG.
Minnesota is shooting 47.5% from the field this season, 39% from beyond the arc and 68% from the line. The Gophers are holding opponents to 40% shooting, second-best in the conference, and are winning the battle on the boards by 1.9 RPG.
The Wolverines are just 1-6 SU but 4-3 ATS on the road this season. Meanwhile, Minnesota is 11-1 SU and 74 at Williams Arena.
Michigan is also 0-3 straight up but 3-0 against the pointspreads when dogged by eight or more points, while the Gophers are 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS when favored by eight points or more.
Last year the Wolverines swept two games from Minnesota, by scores of 74-62 and 67-64. The first game went over its posted total of 127, and the second game went over its total of 126.
Michigan is a lopsided 5-14 on the totals this season, as their games have averaged just under 127 points. And the Wolverines have played 10 unders in a row. Minnesota is 9-11 on the totals, as their games have averaged 139 points.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate the Gophers at +6.5 over the Wolverines. And with Sagarin’s four-point home-court advantage figure, Minnesota is favored by 10 points over Michigan on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man’s Pick: Minnesota is a very strong home team. I look for them to win and cover by 10+ tonight.