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Minnesota vs. Washington NIT Gambling Free Picks & Preview

NIT Final 4 – Golden Gophers vs Huskies Handicapping Pick

The Washington Huskies will make their second trip of the year to the Big Apple on Tuesday, where they will hope to have better results when they take on the No. 6 seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers for a chance to play either Stanford or UMass in Thursday’s NIT championship game.  

No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers (22-12, Big 10) v No. 1 Washington Huskies (24-10, PAC-12)
Date/Time: 9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Broadcast: ESPN
Spread: Washington -1
Over/Under: 143.5

Matchup | Preview 

While the top-seeded Huskies made it to the NIT’s final four after winning three times at home, beating UT Arlington, Northwestern and Oregon. The Golden Gophers took the long way to get to New York, winning road games at LaSalle, Miami and Middle Tennessee State.

This will mark Minnesota’s first appearance in the NIT semis since 2003, and it follows an uninspiring finish to a regular season in which the Gophers went 3-8 prior to the NIT, including a five-game losing streak after finishing with a 6-12 record in Big Ten play.

Nevertheless, the Gophers came up big win it mattered most, winning each of its tourney games by an average of 11 points, including a 78-72 win over Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night.

It was just Tennessee’s second home loss of the season, as Minnesota snapped their 13-game win streak at the Murphy Center.

Forward Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins lead the charge, each scoring 24 points to help Minnesota advance.

Williams leads the team with 12.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg, and is averaging 22 points and shooting 68.4 percent from the field in 3 NIT games, while Hollins is averaging 17.0 ppg in the NIT, but is only scoring 8.5 ppg over 35 games.

Even though Minnesota led most of the way in the second half, it struggled to put Middle Tennessee away in the final minutes. In the closing 28.6 seconds, the Blue Raiders narrowed the lead to three twice and two once, but the Gophers made all eight free throws in that span to hold on.  [soliloquy id=”82219″]

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington Huskies have made it past the third round of the NIT for the first time in the school’s history, holding off a late rally to win 90-86 over Pac-12 rival Oregon.

Terrence Ross scored 24 points, Tony Wroten added 22 points, and C.J. Wilcox pitched in with 17 for the Huskies, including 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch.

Although Oregon led by four at halftime, Washington quickly tied the score after the break, spurring a seesaw battle until UW went on a 9-0 run midway through the half to take a 10-point lead they would never surrender.

The win boosted the Huskies scoring average to 82.7 ppg, now having won their three games by an average of 11.7 points on 72.5 percent shooting from the line (58-for-80) after shooting 61 percent during the first 31 games of the year.

Prediction- Washington —

The public is leaning on the Gophers to win this game, but I’m going with the odds makers. The Huskies have the momentum, and two very good NBA-bound guards and perhaps the best players remaining in the NIT, in Ross and Wroten.

When you have two of the best players in the country, I see no reason why the Huskies won’t advance to the finals.

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