The championship game of the NIT is set for Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. What we all want to see in March Madness play has come to this tournament, as the Stanford Cardinal take on the Minnesota Gophers.

The 6th seeded Minnesota Gophers, who had a 6-12 conference record in the Big Ten, face off against the Pac-12's Stanford Cardinal. NCAA basketball betting shops have opened the number as an even pick em’. Which team do you want to see hoist the other trophy in the NIT, and where do we think you should place your NCAA basketball picks?

What can Brown do for you? 

Stanford vs. MinnesotaAnthony Brown’s Stanford teammates owe him one after his performance in the NIT semi finals. Brown put up 13 points in the second half and 18 in the game to book Stanford’s meeting with Minnesota. While Brown shot over 50%, the rest of Stanford’s players shot 32%. Brown was the Cardinal’s fourth best scorer in the regular season, only averaging 8 points per game. 

Tuesday’s win is Stanford’s third double digit NIT win out of the four total, has been a nice run for a team that was once a bubble team for the NCAA tournament. However, they will need their top three scorers to do more then 30 points on 29 shots. 

What the Cardinal did well was have a +10 rebound margin over the Minutemen, of which 15 were offensive rebounds. To couple along with that, the Cardinal played good defense against the Minutemen, and will be forced to play a lot of defense in Thursday’s championship game due to Tubby Smith’s slow down style. They did hold UMass to just under 34% shooting, but Minnesota’s quality shots will surely be better then that, so Stanford will have to play even better defense tonight. 

Minnesota will not die 

The sixth seeded Gophers have refused to lose over this entire tournament, and that was reinforced once again this past Tuesday, as the Gophers beat the number one seeded Washington Huskies by one point in overtime. The Gophers had a double figure lead at the half, but Washington forced overtime when CJ Wilcox forced a Gopher turnover and tied the game with 16 seconds to go. 

This is just petty stuff compared to who they have been missing this entire tournament. They have played basically the entire season without Trevor Mbakwe and have played their last six games with Ralph Sampson III. 

This is a different matchup for Minnesota then they have seen all tournament. Sampson III dressed for the Washington game, but Smith stated before the game that it was unlikely that he would play. He has been practicing, so there is still a chance that he could see court time, but since he hasn’t been able to do much activity, there is probably a small chance that he plays extended minutes and has a huge factor if he plays at all. However, it does not affect my pick for the game 

The Sharp Pick 

I see this game being even at the sportsbooks as an advantage for NCAA Basketball bettors. Despite the injuries that have been suffered by the Gophers, I like them as the outright winner of the NIT. Although Stanford has been playing better as of late, the PAC-12 conference is nothing compared to life in the Big Ten. I have been mentioning the Gophers 6-12 conference record throughout the NIT, but if they played in the PAC-12, they would be a .500 or better team, especially fully healthy. Look for the Gophers to take the win.

My Pick: Gophers pick em’