The undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers visit the Pittsburgh Panthers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET), and with both squads among the bottom third of the nation’s 358 Division-I college basketball programs in tempo, looks at the rim will be limited.
ESPNU will televise, but it will be difficult to watch. These two are a combined 8-3 to the ‘under’ this season, and these ingredients could produce a winner that scores a mere 60 points.
Minnesota Gophers (5-0, 4-1 ATS)
Three foes have tallied 56 or fewer points against the Gophers, who own a top-20 defensive field-goal percentage of 41.9.
Pitt, meanwhile, shoots a poor 47.7%. Those combinations will also contribute to low production.
Moreover, this is the Gophers’ first true road game of the season. The past two seasons, they are 2-20 on the highway in the other guys’ usual barns.
Jamison Battle (George Washington transfer) averages 17.8 ppg and 6.2 rpb. Sean Sutherlin (New Hampshire) is starting to click, averaging 14.3 ppg in his past three after tallying just eight total points his first two games.
Senior center Eric Curry, the program’s lone healthy returnee from last season, has scored 35 points and grabbed 34 boards in Minnesota’s five games.
Point guard Payton Willis might be today’s poster boy for college sports. He played at Vandy for two seasons, landed at Minnesota, went to Charleston for a season, and returns to the Gophers to cap his career. He averages 16.6 points and is the catalyst.
This is Ben Johnson’s first head-coaching gig. Minneapolis is his hometown, he captained the team as a player, and he was an assistant for five seasons.
This first road game will be a test, as will the next one — Sunday at Mississippi State.
Pitt Panthers (2-4, 2-4 ATS)
The Panthers have scored 63, 59, 59, 63, and 52 points in five of their six games. Four of those were at home.
They are average shooters inside the arc, poor (27.9%) beyond it, and very poor at the free-throw line, at 60.4%. Only 17 teams in the nation are worse at shooting freebies.
At 68.1%, the Gophers resemble marksmen at the line compared to Pitt. Still, anything below 70% is poor, so the bushel of free-throw clanks off the rim will echo throughout Petersen and contribute to the ‘under’.
John Hugley, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound sophomore, is the most-dependable Panther but is wildly inconsistent. He scored 27 points in the first game, 21 in his last one, but in between he had outings of one and seven points.
This game figures to be as erratic as Hugley’s season. A staple of Pitt tilts, so far, is a rash of turnovers, on both sides of the ball.
It, too, has a tough next game — Friday at Virginia. If the Gophers and Panthers have their next opponents on their minds in this game, however, the victor might not score 50.
Minnesota Gophers at Pittsburgh Panthers Pick
We apply Ken Pomeroy’s peerless metrics, used by many oddsmakers to set lines, to establish our spreads and totals. Based on this estimated total, we’re on the ‘under’. If the actual line posted by sportsbooks is lower than 130, ‘under’ may no longer be a play.
Our Pick: Under 130 (-110)
Update: Tuesday morning, FanDuel is dealing 129.5, the best number for ‘under’ bettors.