NCAA Basketball Picks: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats
Wednesday, 1/23/12, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  Big Ten Network
Opening Point Spread:  Minnesota -8.5
Current Betting Line:  Minnesota -8.5
Opening Total:  132.5
Current Total:  132
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will try to snap a two-game losing streak Wednesday night
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will try to snap a two-game losing streak Wednesday night

Minnesota will look to get back on the winning side of things after dropping back-to-back games, including an 83-75 setback to the Michigan Wolverines as 2.5-point home favorites last time out.  “We got off to another slow start again,” commented Golden Gophers guard Joe Coleman.  The Golden Gophers won their first three Big Ten Conference games by an average of 16.0 points, which includes a 69-51 victory over Northwestern as 17-point home favorites earlier this month.  Minnesota is 4-0 ATS on the road this season, which can’t be ignored when making your NCAA basketball picks Wednesday night.

The Golden Gophers have three players that have double-digit career point averages against the Wildcats, with Andre Hollins being one of them, while also averaging a team and career-high 14.3 points overall during the 2012-13 season.  Minnesota leads the Big Ten in averaging 6.4 blocks and 9.6 steals per game, which isn’t very surprising under the leadership of head coach Tubby Smith.  On the other end of the floor, the program paces all teams within the conference in averaging 16.0 offensive rebounds per game, which provides a lift for its scoring.

Northwestern is set to play its third straight game against a ranked opponent, as it has alternated wins and losses over its last five games, coming off a 67-59 decision to the Indiana Hoosiers as 12-point home underdogs Sunday.  “It seems to me we’re making some steps,” stated Wildcats head coach Bill Carmody.  “I think we’re getting better.”  The Wildcats will try to force the Golden Gophers into mistakes by utilizing a 1-3-1 zone on the defensive end.  Northwestern is 7-14 ATS as a home underdog of 6.5 to 9 points in its last 21 opportunities.

The Wildcats trailed the Golden Gophers by just three points at the half in their first meeting, while Reggie Hearn led three players in double figures with 11 points.  He is averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game.  Sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski is a key player to watch on the offensive end, as ranks fifth in the conference in averaging 4.4 assists per game.

Sports bettors will likely back the Golden Gophers due to their 14-3 ATS mark on the road, while the underdog is 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings in this series.

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