Tubby Smith's Gophers are flying high through their non-con schedule, and will be out to pick up win #11 on the season Tuesday night when they host the North Dakota State Bison.
Twenty days is a long time to go for a college basketball
team with just one game on the schedule. That's especially true for a squad like the Minnesota Golden Gophers who
have been building momentum in the first month of the campaign.
You never know if the extra days off will help or hinder a
team once we reach this point of the season. A nearly 3-week stretch with just one contest is what awaits the Gophers
after they host the North Dakota State Bison at Williams Arena on Tuesday (9 PM
ET). The one matchup is Dec. 22 vs.
little Lafayette College
out of the Patriot League, and that shouldn't provide anything but a warm-up
leading into a Big Ten battle with Michigan
state on New Year's Eve.
Whether or not the layoff might kill the momentum that Tubby
Smith's team has built will be answered in the first few conference clashes
that begin vs. the Spartans. The
question that needs to be answered for tonight's game is will the Gophers get
caught looking ahead to the upcoming 11-day break, or will they come into the
contest against NDSU focused and ready to hit the break with a decisive
It makes for an interesting decision that bettors will have
to make concerning the NCAA Basketball odds that are up for Tuesday's tilt. Minnesota
is listed as 14.5 point favorites with a 133.5 point total.
Let's dig a bit deeper before we make our final NCAA basketball picks for tonight's showdown.
Bison Versus Big Ten,
Both of NDSU's losses, straight up as well as against the
spread, came on the road. The most
recent was a 74-59 debacle at Wisconsin-Green
Bay where the Bison were
only getting three, essentially a pick when you account for home-court
advantage. The time before that was
against a Big Ten foe, the No. 1 team in the land.
Indiana all but toyed with North Dakota State in that early matchup, the second
game of the season for both teams, and still covered a 20-point closing number
with an 87-61 win.
Besides both losses happening away from home, another
similarity in the two Bison defeats is the performance of Taylor Braun in the
two games. The junior guard leads North Dakota State with a 15.9 scoring average, but
combined to net just 11 points (5-of-20 from field) in the two losses, the only
two games he has failed to reach double-digits in the boxscore. Did he just have a couple of off nights, or
did Indiana and Green Bay frustrate him with defensive
pressure to lead to those results?
Quietly Rising In The Ranks
was expected to be part of a very talented and deep Big Ten this season, but to
go from completely shut out of the two preseason polls to No. 13 (AP) and No.
16 (Coaches) presently makes the Gophers the top early candidate for most
pleasant surprise of the campaign. They've been getting it done with a well-balanced offense that has
helped bettors cash the last three lined affairs, and seven of nine overall.
It's their defensive intensity and performance that will
decide this game, however. Minnesota will have to
get in the faces of Bison shooters on the perimeter while winning the battle
inside if the final score is enough to cover the NCAAB betting lines.
has won the last 15 straight in this series and holds a 26-1 advantage
all-time. North Dakota State
did cover a shorter spread last year and was in the game until the end that
found the Gophers escaping with a 63-59 victory. Minnesota
came out flat and unable to buy a bucket to fall behind by a dozen points
midway through the first half.
This is a different group of Gophers, though, and last
year's meeting was in a very different spot on Minnesota's schedule than this one. The Gophers were coming off a 9-day break and
had their Big Ten schedule cranking up following the matchup with NDSU.
My picks: Over
133.5 at 5Dimes