NCAA Basketball Pick: Montana Grizzlies +13 over Minnesota

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The Montana Grizzlies have been the class of the Big Sky Conference and they return three key starters from their 25-7 team last year. Take the big points at Minnesota Tuesday.

The class of the Big Sky Conference for the last couple of years looks to prove its worth vs. a Big Ten Conference opponent as it opens up its season Tuesday night when those Montana Grizzlies (0-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0, 0-0 home) at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, MN at 8:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Montana as a nice underdog for this contest with the current line at +13 with odds of -101.

Montana returns three starters from a team that went 25-7 last season including 19-1 inside the Big Sky losing only to Weber State, a loss the Grizzlies avenged in the Big Sky Championship Game. Besides, losing on the road to a Weber State team that won 30 games before losing in the CIT Championship Game is nothing to be ashamed of.

Minnesota advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season and beat UCLA before losing to Florida in the third round, but that was apparently not good enough as the Golden Gophers fired Tubby Smith and replaced him with former Florida International Head Coach Richard Pitino, son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. The younger Pitino won his Minnesota coaching debut 81-62 over Lehigh on Friday.

Montana made its second straight NCAA appearance last season, but it also lost its first game for the second straight year, this time in suffocating fashion 81-34 to Syracuse. That is what makes this a big game for the Grizzlies as they want to prove that they can compete with a major conference school after getting knocked out of the Big Dance by Wisconsin the previous season.

Yes the Grizzlies lost Will Cherry and his 13.3 points per game, but among the three returning starters is the Big Sky MVP last year in Kareem Jamar, who filled out a stat sheet averaging 14.2 points on 49.4 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 0.9 steals per game! They also have experience taking over one of the open starting spots as Keron DeShields played big minutes off the bench in each of the last two seasons.

Minnesota was plagued by inconsistency the last several years, which probably played a hand in the firing of Smith. For example, the NCAA win over UCLA was the Gophers’ only win in their last five games as they lost in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to Illinois.

Also, while the Gophers looked good in their opener, keep in mind that it was vs. a Lehigh team from the weak Patriot League, and a lower level team from that league at that. Furthermore, Minnesota will also be short-handed as it has been announced that Mo Walker has been suspended six games for violating an unspecified university policy.

All things considered, look for Montana to at the very least hover within single-digits from start to finish Tuesday.

[gameodds]14/249216/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Montana +13 (-101)