The Big Ten rivals collide in Iowa City with the tip at Carver-Hawkeye Arena set for a little past 1 PM (ET). It's the only game involving a ranked team on Sunday's lighter-than-usual college basketball betting card, but you'll need access to the Big Ten Network to watch it since most of the nation's focus will be on NFL conference championships.
The NCAA basketball odds started with No. 14/16 Iowa laying 9 points, and that number remains at many shops while others have inflated the spread to 9.5. No official total has been released, so I'm setting my own at 149.5.
Gophers Look To Build Off Upset Of Buckeyes
Sunday will be the third of a 4-game stretch for Minnesota (14-4 straight up, 6-8-1 against the spread) against ranked teams, and the Golden Gophers hope to use momentum from Thursday's big win over Ohio State to pull off another upset. The Gophers are 6-8 vs. ranked squads since the start of the 2012-13 season, and a victory in Iowa City would only add to Richard Pitino success in his first year at the helm in Minneapolis.
The Gophers used a strong inside game to hand the Buckeyes their third straight loss a few days ago, topping OSU by a 63-53 count as 3 point underdogs. Minnesota frustrated Ohio State shooters all over the court in holding the Buckeyes to only 18-of-51 shooting (35.3%) from the field, but the Gophers really got tough on the inside and were especially strong on the glass where they won the rebound column, 39-24.
One area of concern for the Golden Gophers through their first five Big Ten contests has been turnovers, and Iowa will make them pay if that continues on Sunday. Minnesota worked around 18 gaffes vs. Ohio State, and is averaging 14.4 turnovers per conference clash, most in the Big Ten.
Hawkeyes Hit Floor After 7 Days Off
This will be the first time Iowa (14-3 SU, 10-5 ATS) has taken the floor since upsetting Ohio State 84-74 in Columbus last Sunday, so there might be a little concern that Fran McCaffery's group needs to shake off a little rust. The Hawkeyes were 6 point road 'dogs in the victory over the Buckeyes, marking their third consecutive cover and sixth in the last seven lined affairs.
Like the Gophers, Iowa beat the Buckeyes on the glass (40-31) and broke open a close contest with a 22-9 scoring run over the final 5½ to get the victory. Fourteen of those 22 points came at the free throw line, a mild surprise given the Hawkeyes are 10th among 12 Big Ten teams with a 69% clip from the charity stripe in conference clashes.
Series History & A Free Pick
The question now becomes which team puts its upset of the Buckeyes behind them the quickest and focuses on the game at hand? If all-time series history is any indication, Minnesota gets the nod with a 96-84 record between the schools. But if recent results are the telling factor, it goes to Iowa with three victories in the last four meetings.
Last year's matchups were split with each squad winning at home. The Hawkeyes covered both games, however, and have a string of four consecutive cash jobs vs. the Golden Gophers. An even more impressive streak is six straight winning tickets for 'under' bettors, which plays well with Minnesota's 3-8 O/U mark this season. That smacks in the face of Iowa's trend which is to the high side; the Hawkeyes are 10-3 'over' with eight of their last nine skipping past the number.
I'm going to side with the series streak and offer up the 'under' for our free NCAA basketball pick.
My pick: Minnesota-Iowa Under 149.5
Season: 21-12 (+7.8)