Preview: Men's basketball, Minnesota going in opposite directions
Who: Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-13, 3-11 Big Ten)
When: Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis
TV / Radio: ESPN2 / 94.9 WMMQ-FM (Lansing)
Line: MSU -10.5
While the Spartans have been trending upwards as of late, the Golden Gophers have done just the opposite.
A win against No. 2 MSU could salvage Minnesota’s season, and it would also end a seven-game losing streak.
The Spartans (24-3, 12-2), however, are off to their best start since 2000-01 — when the team also got off to a 24-3 start — and looking to cut Ohio State’s lead in the conference standings to a half game.
Sophomore forward Miles Bridges drained a deep 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left Saturday to lead the Spartans past then-No. 3 Purdue at the Breslin Center. The Spartans, who rallied back from a 10-point deficit in the first half, used a 14-5 run in the second half to beat the Boilermakers. Bridges, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week Monday, scored a team-high 20 points in MSU’s third win against an AP Top 25 team.
Despite losing 10 of its last 11, Minnesota still has junior forward Jordan Murphy, who leads the team with 17.4 points and averages 11.6 rebounds — the most in the Big Ten.
Murphy is just one of four players for Minnesota who averages double-figure scoring. As a team, Minnesota averages 77.2 points with a +2.7 scoring margin and shoots 43.8 percent from the floor. The Gophers are holding opponents to 43.8 percent shooting from the field.
MSU, led by Bridges — who is one of five players who averages double figures — leads the team averaging 17.8 points. The Spartans average 83.1 points with a +17.9 scoring margin and shoot a conference-best 51.6 percent from the floor. MSU is holding opponents to 36.3 percent from the field.
The Spartans own the all-time series 68-60, but Minnesota is 36-25 in games played at The Barn. MSU coach Tom Izzo is 30-11 all-time against the Golden Gophers, and Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is 2-4 against the Spartans.
Casey Harrison: MSU 80, Minnesota 64
Michael Duke: MSU 78, Minnesota 61