Iowa at Minnesota Betting Preview, Selection, Odds

Game: Iowa @ Minnesota (-5)

Sharp: Dave Miller

Selection: Minnesota (-5)

Two Big Ten teams looking to get back on the winning track will battle on Sunday afternoon as No. 21 Iowa (17-8, 8-6 Big Ten) travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota (12-11, 6-7) at Williams Arena.

This is almost as close to a must-win game as possible for the Golden Gophers. In fact, this kicks off a four-game stretch (Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland) that will help determine whether the Gophers are truly players for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. All of those games except the one against the Wildcats are at home.

The last time Minnesota took the court was eight days ago when it dropped an 83-77 decision at Penn State despite a career-high 32 points and 16 rebounds from Daniel Oturu. The Gophers trailed by as many as 19 in the second half before a rally led by Marcus Carr fell short.

Meanwhile, Iowa is coming off of an 89-77 road loss to Indiana on Thursday night despite standout big man Luka Garza putting up 38 points and Joe Wieskamp adding 16. The Hawkeyes have lost three of five, and it's hard to expect freshman guard CJ Fredrick to play in this one after he was helped off the court late in the first half of the loss at IU with what appeared to be an injury to his right ankle. He is Iowa's third-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game and leads the Big Ten in 3-point accuracy (47.2 percent).

These teams both rely on senior experience, with Oturu leading the way for Minnesota, while Iowa is led by the inside-outside presence of Garza. But this one should come down to which team more effectively clamps down defensively.

Minnesota is winless this year when it allows 72 points or more, while Iowa is 2-8 when allowing the opposition to shoot a field goal percentage of 43.1 percent or higher. The Gophers are desperate to enhance their résumé, and they have beaten Iowa three straight times at Williams Arena. Iowa leads the Big Ten at an average of 79 points per game, while Minnesota has struggled from 3-point range all season. The Gophers are connecting on just 32 percent of their treys on the season.

The numbers don't bode well for the Gophers, but Iowa has lost three straight road games. If Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes are able to steal one at Williams Arena, it won't be easy against a Gophers team in dire need of a win. Richard Pitino's squad should cover if not outright win. As we know, life on the road is tough in the Big Ten.

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