MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (16-1)
at MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (15-2)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota -3, Total: 139.5
A pair of top-10 teams coming off losses will flex their muscles on Thursday night when No. 5 Michigan visits No. 9 Minnesota.
The Wolverines lost for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon, falling 56-53 at Ohio State. They shot below 40% from the floor for the second straight contest after shooting 51% or better in each of their previous five games. The Golden Gophers saw their 11-game win streak end on Saturday at Indiana due to a lack of defense. The Hoosiers scored 88 points on 51% FG to earn that victory. Michigan has won seven of the past eight meetings between these schools, but Minnesota is 3-1 ATS in the past four matchups.
Which top-10 team will leave the court victorious on Thursday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts have a collective 33-24 ATS (58%) mark in the past eight days, boosting them to 53% ATS (233-208-8) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 59% ATS (54-38) for the season, while StatFox Dave is at 54.2% ATS (84-71-3) on the year. StatFox Scott is 51% ATS for the season, after going 59% ATS (10-7) since Jan. 7, and StatFox Brian is 67% ATS (6-3) in the past five days.
Despite Michigan's recent shooting woes, the team still makes 50.8% FG for the season, the fourth-best mark in the nation. The Wolverines are scoring 79.1 PPG (13th in D-I) and dishing out 15.8 APG (36th in nation) thanks to the dynamic backcourt duo of PG Trey Burke (18.0 PPG, 7.1 APG) and SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG). Burke has scored in double figures in all 17 games this season, and he completely annihilated the Gophers last season with 28.5 PPG on 19-of-25 FG (76%) and 5-of-6 threes in the two-game series sweep. Hardaway scored just seven points on 2-of-14 FG in the first meeting with the Gophers last season, but came back with 20 points and five boards in the 73-69 overtime win in the Big Ten Tournament. He's been scoring at a hefty pace lately too, with 18.2 PPG in the past six contests. The Wolverines are not just a two-man team though, as F Nik Stauskas (12.7 PPG, 49% FG) provides a dangerous weapon from downtown (51% threes) and freshman F Glenn Robinson III (12.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG) has pumped in 14.4 PPG on 66% FG (29-of-44) over his past five games. Forwards Mitch McGary (5.9 RPG) and Jordan Morgan (5.5 RPG) do the dirty work on the boards and also shoot a high percentage with McGary at 59.4% FG and Morgan even better at 63.3% FG.
Minnesota may not have the explosive scorers like Michigan, but it can certainly put up points (77.3 PPG) with a highly efficient offense that makes 47.0% FG (32nd in D-I) and produces 16.5 APG (20th in nation). The Gophers are known to use up to 12 different bodies in a game with no player averaging 30 MPG. Sophomore PG Andre Hollins leads the club in both scoring (14.4 PPG) and assists (3.6 APG), and has scored at least 22 points in three of his past four games, pumping in 25 points in the loss to Indiana. He also scored 21 points in the Big Ten Tournament loss to Michigan. Senior F Rodney Williams (12.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has been a consistent scorer all season with at least eight points in 16 of 17 games. He was phenomenal the last time these schools played in March, scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 FG with six rebounds and four assists. Senior PF Trevor Mbawke (9.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) is regarded as the team's best player, but he's gotten just 20.9 MPG of action this season after tearing his ACL last season. But he's received more playing time since the start of conference play (30.0 MPG) turning that into 11.8 PPG and 11.0 RPG in four Big Ten games. The last time he faced Michigan on Feb. 26, 2011, he scored 18 points and grabbed nine boards in a 70-63 loss. Guards Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman both score 10.9 PPG this season, with Hollins shooting 40% from downtown and Coleman making 51.4% of his field goals.