Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:10 PM EST.
8:00 PM EST. It was a tale of two seasons for the Golden Gophers. When Minnesota took its home court to battle the Scarlet Knights in early December, it was 7-1 and soon to be 8-1 after embarrassing Rutgers 89-67. Minnesota was a sexy dark horse pick to win the Big Ten, but by the time conference play was over, this squad was nowhere near the top of the standings. That great start to the season was aided by a non-conference schedule that ranked 303rd in the nation out of 351 schools. Head coach Richard Pitino took that strategy right out of his old man's playbook, but the Gophers were not served well by bellying up to the cupcake buffet. Minnesota also lost one of its best players after Reggie Lynch was suspended and then expelled from the school. Minnesota's best win this season came over Alabama at the end of November, but that was one of the strangest games played all season, as the Crimson Tide were forced to play most of the second half down 5 on 4 and also 5 on 3 after their players were tossed from the game after a brawl. Despite its huge advantage, Minnesota was outscored 55-48 in the second half and barely held on to an 89-85 victory. That sad state of affairs pretty much sums up the Golden Gophers in 2018.
The Big Ten Tournament is once again shedding its Midwestern roots and taking its show on the road to the Big Apple for the very first time. This second straight trip to a major metropolitan center on the east coast falls in line with the conference's plan to take over the prime real estate left behind after the breakup of the original Big East. Why else would the Scarlet Knights be invited to join this conference if not for Madison Square Garden being a stone's throw away from campus? With the World's Most Famous Arena as the backdrop, Rutgers is the unofficial host of this year's tournament, which makes the Knights the defacto home team despite being billed as the visitors because of their #14 seeding. Don't be influenced by the discrepancy in these two teams records or the fact that the Scarlet Knights are the lowest seed in this tournament because they are so much better than the Golden Gophers on every level it isn't even funny. The Knights were roasted by Minny earlier this season, but that lopsided result will only influence the market to look at this small number and side with the favorite. Rutgers won its first Big Ten tournament game last season with a first-round upset of Ohio State in this very same #14 versus #11 matchup so this is not unfamiliar territory. We'll gladly back the superior side in its own backyard spotting a very short price. RU Rah, Rah! Scarlet Knights get the call.
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#763 Rutgers -1½ -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)