Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:15 AM EST.
5:00 PM EST. Manipulating the schedule is a ploy used to bring attention to one’s résumé and in that regard, Iowa has perfected the strategy by posting a 16-4 overall mark while being ranked #19 in the country. If the season were to end today, the Hawkeyes would be going dancing but we’re suggesting that by the end of conference play, the Hawkeyes will not be ranked and will be a bubble team at best.
We’re not even sure why a home win over Iowa State and neutral-court victories over Oregon and UConn merit a place in the Top 25. The Hawkeyes got eviscerated at Michigan State by 22 points on Dec. 3, lost to Purdue by 16 a month later and just lost by 16 again to Michigan State again. Furthermore, Iowa’s non-conference, strength of schedule ranked 327th in the country. We are in the sell high business and what we have here is one of our favorite college angles, which is fading a ranked team that is a road underdog. Trust us when we tell you that Iowa is not the 19th best team in the country.
The Gophers are coming off a 2-point loss at Michigan State. That’s a “good loss” that figures to give this team a ton of confidence for this home tilt. The Gophers are now 14-5 overall and 4-4 in conference but they have wins over then ranked Nebraska and ranked Wisconsin. Thing is, the Gophers are unranked and undervalued, but coaches around the Big Ten know how dangerous the Gophers can be. Conference play is usually an ugly, physical grind, and not many teams in the league are built for that better than this one. The Gophers have a stud rebounder and post scorer in 6-7 senior forward Jordan Murphy, and 6-10 freshman Daniel Oturu is starting to come on strong. The outside shooting tends to disappear for long stretches, but they compensate by ranking fifth in the country in offensive rebound percentage and offensive free throw rate. Junior Amir Coffey gives this team a different look as a 6-8 point guard and it looks like the Gophers are well-positioned to string together some wins and get completely off the bubble and into the conversation as a legit tournament team. It starts here, as the wrong side is slightly favored.
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MINNESOTA -1½ +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)