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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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Big Ten College Basketball Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan Wolverines Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

The Michigan Wolverines host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Big Ten College Basketball on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPNu. Currently the odds for the game have the Wolverines favored by a slim margin to pick up the win.

Michigan's season could ride on this game. Certainly it's still early in the calendar year, but the Wolverines have been up and down this year and they've won three of their last four games after a brutal four losses in a row, which included defeats to NJIT and Eastern Michigan. But, a win here on their home floor would put Michigan at 3-1 in the Big Ten with many winnable games moving forward. This game, too, is a winnable one, but Michigan hasn't been able to secure games they "should have" won prior to tip-off this season.

Minnesota comes in off a tough loss at home to Ohio State where they potentially had the Buckeyes beaten. The Golden Gophers have dropped three straight games overall, falling to Purdue and Maryland as well. Michigan also lost to Purdue, struggling in the second half and not getting really anything going offensively during that final 20 minutes.

Michigan's struggles this season, oddly enough, have come in scoring enough points. John Beilein's squad comes in averaging only 67 points per game, which is far less than the 80 points Minnesota puts up on average. Michigan has not shot the basketball well, doesn't rebound well and they've struggled to put it all together.

But they're still favored over a Minnesota team that has four players averaging in double figures and two more tossing in at least nine points per game. The Gophers are a very well-balanced team offensively as well, ranking second best in the country at 18.6 assists per game. In this one they'll look to establish an inside presence against a Michigan team that is very young on the interior.

Michigan has scorers, but both Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin can be streaky. Irvin takes too many perimeter jumpers and LeVert hasn't been attacking the basket as much as he should lately, either. Look for that to change in this game as Beilein has his team ready to play. Michigan needs a win here on their home floor and we think they find a way to get it done.

Free Pick: Michigan 62, Minnesota 56

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