Gophers prepare for ascending Badgers
After a 12-1 start, Minnesota has hit a slight bump in the road. Can Richard Pitino’s program recover just in time for Saturday’s highly anticipated meeting with No. 17 Wisconsin?
Handicappers seem leery of such a notion. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Badgers odds of -110 to emerge victorious. Conversely, the Golden Gophers represent +130 underdogs.
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Pitino’s troops drew raves from all over the college basketball world as they repeatedly dispatched opponents during the nonconference schedule. Unfortunately, the first three-plus weeks of Big Ten play haven’t been nearly as rewarding. The Gophers (15-4) are riding a two-game losing streak, prompting some of the Minneapolis faithful to wonder if a return to last season’s 8-23 ways is around the bend.
Wisconsin (15-3) would love nothing more than to heighten said tension. Greg Gard’s team recently staved off a stern challenge from Michigan, 68-64, thanks in large part to another performance by Bronson Koenig. The senior guard finished with 16 points to go along with four rebounds. Fellow fourth-year stalwart Nigel Hayes chipped in 13 points, six boards and three assists.
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If Pitino can’t devise a strategy to neutralize the aforementioned tandem shortly, Minnesota’s bound to endure a long afternoon. Yet we like the Gophers to ultimately feed off the Williams Arena crowd’s energy and keep matters extremely close.
SATURDAY NCAA FREE PICK: WISCONSIN/MINNESOTA OVER 132 POINTS