Rutgers at Minnesota Prediction - Basketball Picks 3/2/23

Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-20) vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights (18-11)

Game Info: Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 7:00 pm (Williams Arena)

Betting Odds: Minnesota Golden Gophers +9.5 -- Over/Under: 127 Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Illinois State Redbirds and the Northern Iowa Panthers will meet in St. Louis in the first round of the MVC Tournament from the Enterprise Center.

Illinois State finished the regular season at 11-20 after defeating Evansville at home. The Redbirds erupted in the second half of their home finale to down the Redbirds by nineteen, 72-53. ISU is scoring 73.2 points per game, while allowing 65.6 ppg, and shooting 44.2% from the field.

Illinois State snapped a six-game skid to close the regular season, and they’ll look to avenge a two-point loss to UNI back in January here. The Redbirds play through the strength of their backcourt, with Darius Burford and Seneca Knight leading the way. Knight has scored 20 points or more in three of the last five games, including a 26-point outing in the win over Evansville, and he’s up to 12.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Burford finished as the team’s leading scorer at 12.8 ppg, after scoring 15 points or more in seven of the last eight games. Kendall Lewis double-doubled in two of the last three games, and he led ISU in rebounding (7.3), while scoring 10.7 ppg. 

Northern Iowa closed the season at 13-17 after losing to Belmont in Cedar Falls. The Panthers let the Bruins pull away late and hand them an eight-point loss. UNI is scoring 73.2 points per game, while allowing 65.6 ppg, and shooting 44.2% from the field.

Northern Iowa uncharacteristically dropped eight of their last nine games, and it’s a testament to how competitive the Missouri Valley has grown. Sophomore guard Bowen Born led the team in scoring at 17.2 ppg after consistent production in the first two thirds of the season. Second-year forward Tytan Anderson has played up to his name in the frontcourt, after double-doubling in their only post-MLK Day win over Missouri State, leads the UNI in rebounding (8.8), while scoring 12.6 ppg.

Illinois State is 19-9 against the spread this season, with a 10-18-1 over/under record. Northern Iowa is 15-11-1 ATS this year, with a 13-14 o/u record.

Both schools struggled in conference action down the stretch, but I like Northern Iowa here as a pedigree play. When you take a deeper dive into the Panthers’ struggles, you see losses to conference leaders Drake (2x), SIU, Bradley and Belmont, so they haven’t performed terribly, they’ve just been a step behind an improving conference this season. UNI swept Illinois State this season, so they will carry the mental edge coming into this one, and I like them advancing in a close finish. Take UNI’s spread for this MVC Tournament matchup.

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a PickDawgz site consensus.

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