In the continuing saga that is the ACC vs. the Big 10, should we consider a notable edge to the Big 10 visitor in this matchup? Find out in our NCAA Basketball handicapping article.
Minnesota (-6) vs. Wake Forest 7:00 ET ESPNU
Last night, Nebraska comfortably outdistanced Florida St., while Rutgers upset Clemson (69-64) as a double digit underdog. I expect more Big 10 dominance in this matchup as the host is notably behind on a learning curve that began from Minnesota last year.
Kansas legend, Danny Manning, takes over at Wake Forest this year, after getting his feet wet with a Tulsa program that won 21 games last year and ascended to the NCAA. This year, Manning takes over for departed HC Bzdelik, who was given his walking papers after Wake Forest had won a total of only 51 games in the previous 4 years. The Deacons have strength at guard with Codi Miller-McIntyre, along with PG Thomas. But, there is weakness in the front court. Perhaps of more importance is that HC Manning and his new staff must reinstall a mental and physical toughness to this team that showed little chemistry in the Bzdelik era. As evidence of the rebuilding program at Wake, consider that in their only game against this level of competition, the Deacons lost 83-53 at Arkansas. In addition, it must be considered that Wake Forest has also lost on this court to mid-major teams, Iona (85-81) and last Friday night to Delaware St. (72-65). This is a Delaware St. team who is 9-21 SU last season, including just 5-11 SU in the relatively weak MEAC conference.
Another important thing to keep in mind before placing your NCAA Basketball picks is that the 2nd year rebuilding at Minnesota is far ahead of Wake Forest. Pitino, the younger, led his Gophers to the NIT title last season. That is a major building block for a team that has 4 returning starters. In the mold of other Big 10 teams, this team is physically tough. It will clearly show on the boards in this contest. As good as the Wake back court is, it will easily be outclassed by Hollins and Mathieu. The Gophers have already been steeled in games against Louisville, St. Johns, and Georgia, as well as devouring a trio of creampuffs at home. In the Gophers’ 66-62 win vs. Georgia last Friday night, they experienced the big-time atmosphere for consecutive nights at Madison Square Garden. As a result, the Tuesday night setting of Joel Coliseum will be of little threat.
There is little doubt that the Minnesota program is further developed than that of Wake. They have superior players, along with a greater physical toughness. Look for it to result in an easy double digit victory tonight.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Minnesota -4 at Pinnacle Sports