Indiana vs. Minnesota
College Basketball Pick: Minnesota +6.5 -110 odd (February 26th 2013)
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Yes, I realize Minnesota opening with 15 wins in its first 16 games is a distant memory. The Gophers have lost eight of their past 11. Their bad stretch began with an 88-81 road loss to Indiana on Jan. 26. The Gophers nearly came back from a 23-point deficit in that matchup.
The Gophers have gotten blown out in their last two games, losing on the road to Ohio State and Iowa. The Gophers have turned the ball over a combined 41 times in those two games while shooting just 32.6 percent from the field.
But Minnesota is much better at home, has played a difficult schedule (17th in the Ratings Percentage Index rankings) and this is a circle-the-wagons, let-everything-hang game. The Gophers know they need a good showing to regain their confidence and get back off the mat not to mention keep them firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. A blowout home loss would look bad.
The Gophers have baeaten Michigan State and Wisconsin at Williams Arena during the past three weeks. The Spartans are ranked ninth and Wisconsin is 17th, respectively, in the latest The Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Indiana is No. 1. The Hoosiers are in a bit of if not a letdown spot at least a situation where their motivation doesn’t figure to be as high as Minnesota’s. The Hoosiers won a hard-fought 72-68 road battle at Michigan State in their last game to give them a two-game lead in the loss column over the Spartans for the Big Ten Conference crown.
On the injury front, senior forward Rodney Williams, the Gophers’ second-leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, has recovered from his shoulder soreness and will start. Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who is second in scoring for the Hoosiers, isn’t 100 percent due to a sprained ankle. Don’t miss out on more free college basketball picks daily at Touthouse.com, Accuwager.com and Handicapperspicks.com
This is the Big Ten. Desperate home teams protect their turf. The Gophers are in that spot. They’ve beaten Top 20 teams at home and they can hang in here against the best.