The Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-14, 6-14 Big Ten) take on the Northwestern Wildcats (9-14, 6-13 Big Ten) in the first round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Minnesota enter the tournament as the 13th seed, while the Wildcats are the 12th seed. Wednesday’s tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. EST inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Northwestern are a 2-point favorite over the Golden Gophers in the round one matchup, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota limps into the conference tournament, having lost their final seven games of the regular season. When the Gophers tipoff Wednesday night, it will be nearly a month since Minnesota’s last victory, a 71-68 win at home over Purdue.
Offensively, Minnesota score 73.2 points per game while shooting 39.4% from the floor and a league-worst 28.6% from beyond the arc. On defense, the Gophers allow 74.0 points per game while holding opponents to 44.4% shooting from the field and 35.5% from three.
In their regular-season finale, the Gophers fell to Rutgers at home in overtime, 77-70. Minnesota have led in scoring by senior forward Brandon Johnson, who poured in 19 points. The Gophers shot only 31.3% (20-of-64) from the field and allowed Rutgers to connect on 43.5% (27-of-62) shots, including 40% (8-of-20) from deep.
The Gophers finished the regular season with a 9-16-2 mark against the spread, including a 2-7-1 mark over their final ten games. Minnesota finished 6-13-1 ATS against Big Ten teams.
What to Know – Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern opened the season, winning six of their first seven games before falling to win another contest until February 25th. The Wildcats dropped 13-straight games before closing out the regular season with three victories in a row, including a win over Minnesota (67-59).
The Wildcats average 71.3 points per game and shoot 43.9% from the field and 35.6% from the three-point line. Northwestern’s defense allows 70.9 points per game behind 43.1% shooting from the field and 33.4% beyond the arc.
Northwestern held off a Nebraska second-half push on Sunday to earn the victory, 79-78 at home. Six players scored in double figures for the Wildcats, led by sophomore guard Chase Audige who came off the bench to score 14 points. Northwestern shot 53.3% (32-of-60) from the field and 44% (11-of-25) from beyond the arc.
NW wrapped up the regular season with a 10-11-1 record ATS and 8-10-1 ATS in conference play. Northwestern are only 2-8 in their last ten games as the favorite in the matchup.
The Pick is In
Northwestern have the momentum entering the conference tournament with three straight wins to close out the regular season, while Minnesota is searching for answers to halt the losing streak. In their only meeting of the season on February 25th, Northwestern held the Gophers to a paltry 14.8% (4-for-27) mark from deep. The loss was one of only four losses for Minnesota at home this season. The winner advances to take on Ohio State on Thursday night, and we expect that team to be Northwestern.
The Pick: Northwestern Wildcats -2