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Iowa vs. Minnesota College Basketball Picks: Gophers Happy at Home

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Iowa vs. Minnesota College Basketball Picks: Gophers Happy at Home
Luke Loewe #12 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP.

Sunday’s matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers figures to carry enormous weight with the NCAA Tournament committee come Selection Sunday. We give our favorite Iowa-Minnesota picks for Sunday’s matchup.

Iowa (12-4, 2-3) has a sensational 10-1 record at home but has won just one of its four road games. Fran McCaffery’s squad has won five of its last six games but has split its last 12 meetings with Minnesota.

Minnesota (10-4, 1-4) has taken its lumps in Big Ten play thus far and enters this game on a three-game losing streak. Minnesota is 5-2 straight up at home, but those two losses were its only home Big Ten games to this point. The Golden Gophers have won nine of their last 12 home games against Iowa, with three outright wins coming against Hawkeyes teams ranked in the top 25.

Here are my picks and predictions for Sunday’s college basketball matchup between Iowa and Minnesota. (Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale)

Iowa vs. Minnesota Game Info

Date/Time: Sunday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. ET
TV: BTN
Location: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN

Iowa vs. Minnesota Odds Analysis

Iowa is a six-point road favorite for just the second time this season. The Hawkeyes have covered eight of their 13 games as favorites, while Minnesota is 0-2 SU and ATS as home underdogs. This is the seventh time the Golden Gophers have been underdogs in the last nine games.

The 152.5-point total is by far the highest of any of Minnesota's games this season. By comparison, the Golden Gophers have only played two of their 14 games with a projected total in the 140s to this point. The Over is 6-2 in Minnesota's last eight games and has cashed in each of Iowa's last four.

Iowa vs. Minnesota Picks

Minnesota +6 (-110) ★★
Under 152.5 (-110) ★★★★

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Iowa vs. Minnesota Predictions

Minnesota +6

This game is a fascinating matchup of contrasting styles, as Iowa plays at the Big Ten's second-fastest tempo (48th quickest nationally), while Minnesota ranks outside the top 275 nationally in tempo and wants to play this game at a snail's pace. It is always easier to slow a team down than speed them up in basketball, and we expect Ben Johnson's methodical style to give Iowa fits.

Minnesota plays three of its next four games at home, so this is a golden opportunity to build some momentum and strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume.

In its last game, Johnson's club allowed Michigan State to shoot 43% from 3-point range but still nearly walked out of the Izzone with a colossal upset. The Golden Gophers put on a clinic in transition defense and remained in the game until the final buzzer despite all five starters playing at least 30 minutes.

Minnesota ranks 16th in the country allowing opponents to shoot just 27.7% from beyond the arc. That stingy perimeter defense and methodical pace will be the biggest reasons the Gophers keep this game close.

Under 152.5

Iowa's offensive numbers are eye-popping, but they have not been scoring with the same punch on the road as they have at home. The Hawkeyes averaged just 67 points per game in their three road contests but have topped 80 points in all 11 games at home this season.

The Hawkeyes thrive on getting out in transition and attacking opposing defenses before they get set. However, Minnesota is arguably the best transition defense in the country. The Gophers eschew offensive rebounds (ranked dead-last in Division I in offensive rebounding percentage) to ensure they have enough bodies back to thwart fast-break opportunities. Minnesota knows they cannot get into a track meet with Iowa, and making the Hawkeyes consistently beat them in the half-court is a sure way to keep this a low-scoring game.

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Iowa-Minnesota picks made 1/16/2022 at 8:28 a.m. ET