I have had a lot of success betting on the BIG 10 so far this year. That trend continued last night when we picked up a nice win backing the Maryland Terrapins on the road against Ohio State. I just felt that the Terrapins were the better team and took advantage of an early morning line moved that gave me a number I just couldn’t pass up on, getting four and a half points. In the end, I didn’t need any points at all as the Terrapins dominated the game. The Terrapins managed to win 75-61, despite the fact that they turned the ball over nineteen times. It is very rare that you see a road team in conference play turn the ball over that often and win. Let alone win by double-digits.
But that is just what Maryland did last night. Anthony Cowan Jr led the way for Maryland again, and this kid is establishing himself as one of the best players in the BIG 10. The Terrapins shot the lights out last night enroot to the big road win, shooting 65% from three and 88% from the charity stripe. With the win, and Michigan loss earlier this morning, the Terrapins move into second place in the league standings behind just Michigan State. Not many people expected the Terrapins to really compete for the regular season title in the BIG 10 this year, but here they are, doing just that. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? For today’s pick, I will stay right here in the BIG 10 and breakdown the game between Minnesota and Penn State.
League play has certainly not been kind to Penn State so far this season. After starting out the season looking somewhat promising and handing a very good Virginia Tech team its first loss of the season in November, many wondered if Penn State could make a push to be an NCAA tournament team this year. But things broke a different direction for the Nittany Lions as they are 0-7 in league play and have lost five straight games overall.
For the Minnesota Golden Gophers, they are enjoying a strong start to the year at 13-4 but need to take care of business tonight at home if they want to stay on the right side of the bubble. A loss to Penn State is one that will likely look really bad on Selection Sunday, and they can ill afford a road bump. The Gophers are -4-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 138.5-points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 PM PST from Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are likely not as bad as they look right now. This was never going to be a team that was going to dominate in league play, but they probably don’t deserve to be 0-7 either. It just goes to show you how good of a league the BIG 10 is this season. Every one of the Nittany Lions seven league losses has come to a team that is either currently ranked or was ranked when they played Penn State. That will be the case again tonight as the Gophers were rankled earlier this season and lurk just outside of the top twenty-five, in the also receiving votes category.
The main issue for the Nittany Lions is the fact that they just can’t score. They are currently 302nd in the nation in points per game at just sixty-eight a contest. The reason they struggle to score? They can’t shoot! They are 314th in the country in field goal percentage, and they don’t really pass the ball well either as they are averaging just over twelve assists a game. This team is just fundamentally broken on the offensive side of the ball. They play solid defense, and what little success they have had on the season, they can thank the D for, but without a strong ability to score the ball consistently, this team is going to continue to struggle as the season wears on.
Minnesota has similar struggles on the offensive side of the ball, although they are not nearly as poor of a shooting team. And Minnesota makes up for the lack of elite shooting by rebounding the ball well and having a solid assist to turnover ratio. The Gophers were rolling through mid-season play in December as they had won six straight games before losing to Maryland and Illinois. There is no shame in losing to Maryland, the Terrapins are a good team, but the loss to Illinois was a head-scratcher.
The Illini are just 5-12 on the year, and that loss is going to be one that haunts Minnesota the rest of the season. It was a horrific game where nothing went right for Minnesota. The question tonight is which Golden Gophers team will we see? We know what we are going to get out of Penn State, struggles. This game comes down to how well Minnesota executes. Will we see the team that got blown out by thirty points against Illinois? Or will we see the Gophers team that beat solid teams like Washington, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin?
I think that Minnesota finds a way to win and cover tonight. If they play their best game, this one won’t even be close. The Gophers have had their struggles on the road this year, but at home, they are a strong team and think they will take care of business in this one. Give me the Minnesota Golden Gophers tonight, laying -4-points!