Pick Gophers to Cover in Minnesota vs. Louisville

Steven Suarez

Friday, November 14, 2014 7:16 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 7:16 PM UTC

There's going to be a lot of love for Louisville to open up the season, but come check out why we think Minnesota may be the play as the college basketball betting underdogs on Friday night.

Odds Overview
The lines have moved quite a bit, as the NCAA Basketball odds are now listing the spread at 9 points after opening the line at 7.The total is currently trading at 142 points, signalling that most online sportsbooks are expecting a back-and-forth contest with a good deal of offense.

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Louisville Cardinal
First, let's reflect back on Louisville's 2013-14 campaign before looking towards the future.

It was another highly successful season for the Cardinal, who finished with a 31-6 record, which included tournament play in March. They won the Big East title, but in the Big Dance they fell short to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

Last year's team was led by guard Russ Smith, who averaged 18.2 PPG, 4.6 APG and 3.3 RPG. Montrezl Harrell, Luke Hancock and Chris Jones all averaged in double figures too, and Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan and Terry Rozier also played their part for Rick Pitino's team.

For 2014-15, Louisville will welcome back the likes of Harrell, Jones, Blackshear and Rozier, and you know Pitino is always going to have a good freshman class to call on too. Jones and Rozier are expected to start in the backcourt, with Harrell the go-to guy inside and Blackshear and sophomore center Mangok Mathiang likely filing in the remaining spots.

Harrell is the guy that everyone's excited about. When he announced he was returning for his junior year, the Cardinal faithful had to be ecstatic about their team's chances this coming season. Harrell averaged 14.0 PPG and 8.4 RPG as a sophomore, so you have to think he's ready to make an even bigger jump this coming year as the main man in Louisville. We'll see what kind of impact he can make in the opener on Friday night.


Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Golden Gophers, including tournament play, finished with a 25-13 record in 2013-14. They had to settle for a spot in the NIT, but they charged through the competition in that tournament and won the whole thing. 

On the way, Minnesota got through High Point, Saint Mary's, Southern Miss, Florida State and then SMU in the final. Needless to say, it wasn't an easy road for the Golden Gophers, regardless of it not being the NCAA tournament.

Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins were the main scorers for the team last season, with Deandre Mathieu also making a big impact.

Entering the 2014-15 season, Minnesota will welcome back Andre Hollins and Mathieu, and that's a great duo to build around for Richard Pitino (yes, he's the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino). Juniors Carlos Morris and Joey King are likely to start, with the lineup rounded out by center Elliot Eliason.

We expect Minnesota to have quite a bit of success this coming season, and it starts with that tandem of Hollins and Mathieu. Will they show up in the opener.

Read Jeff Grant's Free Picks for this matchup here.

NCAA Basketball Pick
We're excited that college basketball is starting up again, and you couldn't ask for a more intriguing opening matchup. It's the Pitinos going head-to-head, but more importantly, it's two excellent teams going at it. This game shouldn't be a blowout.

That leads us to believe that the value is with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have an experienced team, with their starting five likely to include three seniors and two juniors. They're not going to be intimidated by the hype that typically comes with Louisville's teams year in and year out. We also love their guard play and think that will keep them competitive most nights.

With that in mind, we're going to add Minnesota to our college basketball picks for Friday.

Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers +8.5 atBet365

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