NCAA Basketball Pick: Minnesota -3½ over Florida State

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Home court, turnovers and rebounding should all combine to give Minnesota the edge when it hosts Florida State in the Tuesday finale of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The home team should turn an excepted turnover and rebounding advantage into victory Tuesday night when the Florida State Seminoles (5-2, 1-1 away) pay a visit to those Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 4-0 home) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge from Williams Arena in Minneapolis, MN at 9:30 ET on ESPNU.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Minnesota as a modest favorite for this contest with the current line at -3½ with odds of -103.

Both of these teams are off to nice starts this season. The Golden Gophers are looking to build on their return to the NCAA Tournament last season, where they beat the UCLA Bruins in the second round by 20 points 83-63 before losing to Florida, and they are off to a nice 6-2 start this year that includes a 4-0 mark here at home, where they have won their games by an average of +19.3 points.

The Seminoles on the other hand are coming off of a disappointing 18-16 season that ended with a first round upset home loss to Louisiana Tech in the NIT, and they are doing their best to erase that memory with their 5-2 start. However, it bears mentioning that Florida State is two points away from being on a three-game losing streak, so it does not have great momentum entering this contest.

Minnesota was off to a 5-0 start before losing back-to-back games to the Syracuse Orange and Arkansas Razorback in the Maui Invitational last week, but there is no shame in losing to teams of that ilk. While the weather may not be as good, the Gophers are probably glad to be returning home here and remember that they did beat Florida State in this same challenge on the road in Tallahassee last season.

Minnesota has a new coach in Richard Pitino, who replaced Tubby Smith, and the Golden Gophers have been very well balanced in the early going under their new leadership, ranking 28th in the country in offensive efficiency and 68th in defensive efficiency. Much like the years under Smith, the offense has been sparked by very good offensive rebounding as Minnesota is grabbing its own missed shots 36.0 percent of the time against a national average of 31.9 percent.

Florida State started off 5-0, but it has lost two of its last three games, albeit vs. good competition in Michigan and Florida, and those two losses were sandwiched by a narrow 62-60 escape back at home vs. the Northeastern Huskies as a 12-point favorite.

The Seminoles do not have a true point guard as they continue to use a natural small forward in Montay Brandon at that position, and that has hurt them in ball protection as they rank a dismal 329th in the country in offensive turnover percentage at 22.7 percent, well above the national average of 18.4 percent. On the flip side, Minnesota is above average at both not turning the ball over (17.0 percent) and at forcing turnovers on defense (19.5 percent).

Furthermore Florida State allows too many offensive rebounds to the opposition, ranking 266th in defensive rebounding percentage, and as mentioned Minnesota crashes the offensive glass very well, which should lead to a big advantage for the Golden Gophers in second chance points.

When you then add what has so far been a good home court advantage for Minnesota into the mix, the Golden Gophers should prevail rather handily in Tuesday’s final ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Minnesota -3½ (-103)

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