It’s time to find out if the Golden Gophers’ 5-0 start is legit heading into the Minnesota at Pittsburgh basketball betting matchup. People aren’t expecting much out of Ben Johnson’s team this season, but Minnesota has started out the year 5-0. The quality of opponent hasn’t been the greatest for the Gophers so far though.
Pitt needs a win in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night to get their season back on track. The Panthers are just 2-4 to start the 2021/22 campaign, with all four of those defeats coming by double figures. Oddsmakers seem a bit torn on this one, and they’ve gone with Minnesota as -2.5 favorites.
Good Minnesota Team – or a Product of Bad Competition?
The Golden Gophers are getting some balanced scoring to kick off the season, with four players averaging in double figures through the first five games. George Washington transfer Jamison Battle has led the way with 17.8 ppg, which should come as a surprise as that’s what he put up last year with the Colonials.
Payton Willis (16.6 ppg) is back with the program after a year at College of Charleston, and he teams up with E.J. Stephens (11.4 ppg) to form a dynamic duo from beyond the arc. Willis has 17+ points in three of the last four and is hitting 44% of his three-pointers. Stephens has hit 10 of 21 three pointers this season (47.8%).
Ben Johnson couldn’t ask for a better start to his Minnesota tenure, taking over for Richard Pitino who is off to coach the New Mexico Lobos. Johnson is one of four first time D1 coaches to start 2021/22 undefeated, and the five wins to begin the season is already the 4th longest streak in school history. The Golden Gophers are also 4-1 ATS, giving them value in the Minnesota at Pittsburgh betting matchup.
Pittsburgh Overmatched Here?
It’s a tough spot for the Panthers, but also a great chance to get their season turned around. There are a lot of things going against Pittsburgh though, including that they are being outscored on average by 7.3 points/game is the worst among 76 teams in the major conferences.
The Panthers also score just 62.2 ppg which is low in itself, but then 70% of their points come from underclassmen, the fifth highest over the major conference programs. To their credit John Hugley (14.3 ppg) and Femi Odukale (13.2 ppg) have played well both in just their second years on campus.
It’s a rough start to the year but not unexpected, considering the Panthers are missing three key cogs from last year’s team. Justin Champagnie averaged 18+ points and 11+ rebounds last season, but that was too good of a year to keep him on campus as he tries to make it in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors. Au’Diese Toney also left for Arkansas and Xavier Johnson to Indiana making that 46.6 ppg gone from last year’s squad between the three of them.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh Basketball Betting Pick
Minnesota has been great to start the year but some of that has to be taken with a grain of salt because of the competition. That being said, although Pittsburgh plays in the ACC they are not at the point of being called “good” or even “mediocre”. Got to go with the visitors here.
Minnesota 66 – Pittsburgh 62
Free Pick: Minnesota -2.5