The Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-14) and Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (27-6) will meet up on Wednesday night in the NIT quarterfinals inside the Murphy Center.
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Minnesota will remain on the road for the third consecutive game after picking up victories over the LaSalle Explorers and Miami Hurricanes in the first two rounds of the National Invitation Tournament. The Golden Gophers closed out their Big Ten Conference schedule with losses in seven of their last nine games, which cost the group a chance to play in the 2012 NCAA tournament. “Every team wants to go to the NCAA tournament in the postseason,” commented Golden Gophers forward Rodney Williams. “For us to still be in the postseason, we’re excited that we have another chance to play.” Minnesota is 9-5 ATS as an underdog this year.
The Golden Gophers have three players who are averaging double-digits in the team’s last five games, with Williams leading the way in scoring 18.0 points per game. Minnesota has tallied an impressive 26-12 record in this event when including vacated games, while also being one of five teams to have 26 or more wins in the history of the NIT. Two of Minnesota’s starters will be highly-motivated to perform at their best in this contest, as freshman Andre Hollins and sophomore Austin Hollins will be making their collegiate debuts in their home state of Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee State advanced in this event with a surprising 71-64 win over the Tennessee Volunteers as four-point road underdogs. The Blue Raiders scored the final 15 points of the contest and will look to capture one more victory before moving onto Madison Square Garden for the semifinals. “It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to our staff,” stated Blue Raiders head coach Kermit Davis about beating Tennessee. Junior guard Bruce Massey was certainly the player of the game, notching his first career double-double in scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Middle Tennessee State is 8-0 ATS when playing a team with a winning record this season.
The Blue Raiders are now 4-2 all-time in NIT games and their 27 wins overall this season is the most in program history. Middle Tennessee State ranks fourth nationally in shooting 49.7 percent from the field and has three starters averaging double figures in scoring. Senior forward LaRon Dendy leads the way in scoring 14.7 points and grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game. The program has won its last 13 games inside the Murphy Center.
Bettors will likely back the Golden Gophers due to their 5-0 ATS mark as a road underdog, while the Blue Raiders are 2-5 ATS as a home favorite.
Recommendation: Minnesota Golden Gophers +3.5
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