The Big Ten offers up another matchup of ranked teams when the Michigan Wolverines look to remain unbeaten with a road challenge against a Minnesota Golden Gophers team looking to snap out of a slump. Let’s take a look at the college basketball odds and make an informed pick.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Saturday, January 16, 2021 – 2:00 PM ET at Williams Arena
The Big Ten continues to deliver this season, as college basketball’s best conference offers up another matchup between ranked teams to highlight Saturday’s action. No. 7 Michigan, one of the few remaining unbeaten teams, looks to remain perfect on the year as it heads to No. 23 Minnesota for a road challenge.
The Golden Gophers will look to snap out of a swoon that started on New Year’s Eve. Minnesota has lost two straight and three of four since December 31, with all three losses coming on the road by a dozen points or more. The Gophers lost to Wisconsin, 71-59, Michigan, 82-57, and Iowa, 86-71, blowing out Ohio State by 17 over that span as well.
Things are rarely close for Minnesota, who also blew out Michigan State by 25 earlier this year and lost to Illinois by 27. The Gophers stand at 10-4, 3-4 in the Big Ten. Michigan is 11-0, 6-0.
Rolling Through the Big Ten
Michigan is one of seven remaining unbeaten in the country, and the Wolverines are making the Big Ten meat grinder look easy. Michigan beat Penn State by four in its conference opener. In the five games since no Big Ten team has come closer than 11 points.
Michigan’s current three-game stretch is one for the ages. The Wolverines beat No. 19 Northwestern by 19, No. 16 Minnesota by 25, and No. 9 Wisconsin by 23. That makes Michigan the first team ever to beat three straight ranked opponents by 19 points or more.
The Wolverines’ win over Wisconsin featured a 36-3 run, highlighting the balance of this Michigan team, which is being able to dominate on both offense and defense. Michigan is sixth in the country in offensive efficiency, 13th on defense. The Wolverines are No. 7 in effective shooting and No. 10 in effective shooting defense.
The versatile Michigan offense can overwhelm teams in a variety of ways. Against Northwestern and Wisconsin, the Wolverines shot 21 of 43, .488 from three. In between those two outside shooting shows, Michigan put up 43 points against Minnesota on dunks and layups, using just 23 shots at the rim to score that total. The Gophers had no answer for Michigan freshman big man Hunter Dickinson, who hit all nine of his shots at the rim in the first matchup on his way to 28 points.
On defense, the Wolverines are getting better as the competition level increases. Michigan allowed 69.4 ppg in non-conference play but have shaved more than seven ppg off of that in Big Ten games, allowing 62.8. Against the three ranked Big Ten foes, Michigan has allowed just 59 ppg.
Minnesota had no answer for Michigan inside in the first matchup, allowing the Wolverines to hit 29-of-45 on two-point attempts while hitting just 15-of-40 itself.
The Gophers would like to hit from the outside to open the game up and pull Michigan out of the paint. That might be a tall order, however. Minnesota is last in the Big Ten in shooting on both two-pointers (.435) and threes (.299). They’ve hit at least one-third of their three-point attempts just once in the last five games. Minnesota is shooting 70 percentage points better from three in home games than on the road, but the Gophers are still below the break-even .333 mark at home.
The Gophers appear to be showing the effects of a rough Big Ten schedule. This will be the seventh straight game against a ranked opponent, the longest streak in school history, and the longest in the NCAA since 2011.
Minnesota is significantly better at home than on the road, going 10-0 at Williams, including wins over Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan State, and 0-4 away. The Gophers shoot and score better at home and should be more competitive than in the embarrassing loss in Ann Arbor 10 days ago.
Michigan has also done most of its damage at home and will be playing outside of its home arena for just the third time in 12 games. All of that means it should be closer than the first meeting, but keeping the margin under 25 doesn’t mean the Gophers will be able to come close to covering the spread.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.