Gophers favored tonight vs. Michigan

Published on Wednesday, 1/16/13, at 6:15 p.m. Eastern.
Updated on Thursday, 1/17/13, at 10:05 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

The highlight of Thursday’s college hoops card will come from the Big Ten Conference, as Michigan and Minnesota will collide at The Barn in Minneapolis. Both schools are in a five-way tie for second place in the conference, one game behind league-leading Wisconsin, which is in sole possession of the top spot with a 4-0 record following its upset win Tuesday at Indiana.

Michigan (16-1 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) will be in bounce-back mode for the first time this year after dropping a 56-53 decision Sunday afternoon at Ohio St. as a two-point underdog. The Wolverines, the nation’s last remaining unbeaten team, fell behind the Buckeyes 29-8 early and were down by 12 at intermission.

John Beilein’s squad wouldn’t fold, though, pulling even at 46-46 with 5:58 left on a 3-pointer from Glenn Robinson III. But Michigan couldn’t overcome 20 points from DeShaun Thomas and stifling defense from Ohio St. guard Aaron Craft, who forced Trey Burke into a 4-of-13 shooting performance from the field.

Burke finished with a team-high 15 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 12 points but made only 5-of-15 from the floor. Michigan shot just 38.3 percent from the field and freshman Nik Stauskas (13.5 points per game, 52.3% from 3-point range) was held scoreless and missed all three attempts from beyond the arc.

Minnesota (15-2 SU, 11-4 ATS) saw its 11-game winning streak snapped in Saturday’s 88-81 loss at Indiana at Assembly Hall. However, after trailing 52-29 at halftime, the Gophers rallied to within three in the final minute and covered the spread as eight-point underdogs.

As of late this morning, most books were listing Minnesota as a three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 139.5.

To check out the rest of this preview, including a few notes for Duke-Ga. Tech and more, click here.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–North Dakota St. guard Taylor Braun is out for the next 4-6 weeks with a foot injury. Braun leads the Bison in scoring, averaging 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. North Dakota St. owns a 15-3 record and an RPI of 63. Two of the Bison’s losses came at Minnesota and at Indiana.

–When Eastern Kentucky faces Belmont as a double-digit road underdog tonight, it will most likely do so without guard Glenn Cosey, who is ‘doubtful’ with a finger injury. Cosey averages 15.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

–Despite the absence of junior guard Trevor Releford due to an injury, Alabama spanked Mississippi St. by a 75-43 count as a 2 1/2-point road favorite last night. The Crimson Tide need to get hot fast if it wants to make a return to the NCAA Tournament. They face four RPI Top 100 teams in their next four games — vs. Texas A&M, vs. Kentucky, at Tennessee and vs. Arkansas.

–Most books are listing the Gators as 9 1/2-point favorites tonight at Texas A&M. UF will be without junior forward Casey Prather, who is out for the next 10-14 days with an ankle sprain. Senior guard Mike Rosario (ankle)  is set to return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s blowout win at LSU. The total is 122.5.

–Saint Mary’s picked up a monster win late last night at BYU thanks to Matthew Dellavedova’s double-clutch buzzer beater from 3-point range. The Gaels won 70-69 as five-point underdogs to improve to 14-4 for the season.

–If you wish, you can check out my picks for Sunday in the NFL Playoffs by clicking here.

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