The Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-8, 2-8 Big Ten) — who were picked to finish last in the conference preseason poll — look to avenge an 81-71 loss three weeks ago against the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-7, 4-6 Big Ten) Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tip off is at 4:30 pm ET on the Big Ten Network.
|Minnesota||TBD||+11.5 (-110)||O 148.5 (-110)|
|Iowa||TBD||-11.5 (-110)||U 148.5 (-110)|
Odds as of February 5th, 2022 at DraftKings
Iowa is an 11.5-point favorite over Minnesota, while the total is 148.5.
Ben Johnson’s team was outrebounded 39-23 by the Boilermakers as it dropped it lost for the seventh time in the last eight games. Senior guard Payton Willis scored 24 points in the loss, while the team’s leading scorer, Jamison Battle, finished with 21.
Meantime, Fran McCaffery saw leading scorer Keegan Murray pour in all 21 of his points after halftime in the four-point loss to the Nittany Lions. Sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery had 16 points and seven rebounds in the defeat — the program’s third in the last four outings.
— Minnesota Men’s Basketball (@GopherMBB) February 5, 2022
Iowa Owns Minnesota in Recent H2H Results
The Hawkeyes have defeated the Golden Gophers in four of the last five meetings, including that 10-point win last month. Minnesota had only the minimum seven scholarship players available for that one, including EJ Little. The senior guard had a team-high 22 points and played all 40 minutes in the loss that also saw Battle put in 20.
The Gophers have struggled in conference play this season under first-year head coach Johnson. After getting out to a 10-1 start overall and splitting its first two Big Ten outings, Minnesota’s lone league victory is a three-point home win against Rutgers two weeks ago.
The offense — which is second only to Penn State in being the slowest in the conference — is led by double-figure scorers Battle, Stephens and Payton Willis. The group is fundamentally sound, rating in the top-25 in offensive turnover percentage, (7th), offensive steal percentage (10th) and offensive non-steal turnover percentage (22nd). But only two losses in this latest string of seven defeats in eight games have been by single-digits.
The @bigten is pretty cool 😎
📰: https://t.co/Pj2dSfttxh pic.twitter.com/SmHTms0noF
— Minnesota Men’s Basketball (@GopherMBB) February 4, 2022
Connor McCaffery’s Status Up in the Air
The head coach’s oldest son — who scored 12 first-half points against Penn State before exiting with a shoulder contusion that caused nerve damage — was still lacking feeling in his arm earlier this week. It’s unclear if he’ll be available Sunday for a starting rotation that could be headed for a shakeup. The Hawkeyes have fallen behind 21-9 to Purdue and 15-5 to Penn State in back-to-back losses.
The good news in those slow starts? Iowa’s bench wound up scoring 24 first-half points to give the team a 34-32 halftime lead against PSU. Tony Perkins and/or forward Kris Murray are the most likely candidates to be inserted into the starting five. Unlike Minnesota, this group has the roster depth to make up for temporary shortcomings.
GAME NOTES | Iowa Hosts Minnesota On Sunday: https://t.co/fL05jAIb3E
🎟: https://t.co/MWAsfCcBkd pic.twitter.com/mlDHUxW6la
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) February 5, 2022
Another bright spot for Iowa has been the play of Murray. The sophomore forward is fifth in the country in scoring (at 22.3 ppg), 44th in field goal percentage (55.1%) and is a three-time Big Ten Player of the Week honoree this season.
And as efficient as the Gophers have been with the rock, the Hawkeyes are even better. The team leads all of Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.82), has the second in fewest turnovers per game (8.9) and is fourth in turnover margin (6.0).
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Minnesota vs Iowa Prediction
Minnesota’s hot start was clearly misleading. As Big Ten play has wore on, the Gophers’ inability to rebound consistently and score in the paint has been exposed.
Meantime, Iowa is 11-2 at home, averages 90 points and nearly nine steals per game, and five of its seven losses have come to teams ranked in the AP Top 25. This one has mis-match written all over it.
Pick: Iowa -11.5 (-110)