Big Ten Tournament 2021: Betting Tips for Round 1 Odds, Spreads and Over-UnderMarch 10, 2021
The Minnesota Golden Gophers dropped off from the middle of the pack in the Big Ten to the first day of the Big Ten tournament in the last month.
The drastic fall from a 6-7 league record to a seven-game losing streak placed the Golden Gophers into the No. 13 seed in Indianapolis.
Minnesota's losing run made it one of the two underdogs for Wednesday's opening-round games. The Gophers will square off with the Northwestern Wildcats.
In the other contest, the Penn State Nittany Lions will try to ride the momentum gained from three wins in four games to beat the worst team in the Big Ten.
A win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers seems like a straightforward result for Penn State, but the real question regarding its opening-round appearance is if it can cover a 6.5-point spread.
Big Ten Tournament 1st-Round Schedule
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
No. 12 Northwestern (+0.5) vs. No. 13 Minnesota (Over/Under: 141.5) (6:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
No. 11 Penn State (-6.5) vs. No. 14 Nebraska (O/U: 146) (9 p.m. ET, BTN)
Northwestern (+0.5) vs. Minnesota
There is absolutely no way you can trust Minnesota at this juncture of the season.
Not only have the Gophers lost seven in a row, but they have not been competitive in most of those games. Six of those seven defeats were by seven points or more, and one of them came against Northwestern.
The Wildcats beat the Gophers by eight on February 25 and used that as a catalyst to win two more games to close out the Big Ten regular season.
Since it is trending in the right direction, Northwestern should be picked to cover the small spread, which is where it is at because the two programs finished beside each other in the Big Ten regular-season standings.
In the 67-59 win, Northwestern used 42 second-half points and a 42.2 field-goal percentage to get past Minnesota.
The Gophers turned in an awful shooting performance in that contest, as they made four of their 27 three-point attempts.
Minnesota's three-point shooting did not improve after that. It did not shoot better than 30 percent in contests against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Penn State and Nebraska.
Conversely, Northwestern is coming off a 44 percent performance from deep in its regular-season finale versus Nebraska.
If those trends hold true, the Wildcats should move on with ease to set up a second-round clash with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Penn State (-6.5) vs. Nebraska
Outside of a two-game winning run in February, Nebraska has not achieved much success in Big Ten play.
Since beating Penn State by one point on February 14, Nebraska allowed 75 points or more in six of its seven defeats. The one exception occurred in the game directly after the Penn State win.
The lone stellar defensive showing in that stretch came in a March 1 victory over Rutgers in which it held the Scarlet Knights to 51 points.
That type of performance can't be expected on a nightly basis from the Huskers, which is one of the reasons why Penn State is the more trustworthy team in the matchup.
Two of Penn State's last three wins came against Minnesota and Nebraska, and it eclipsed the 80-point mark in both victories.
Those offensive outbursts combined with the surprising win over Maryland on Sunday should give the Nittany Lions plenty of confidence heading into Indianapolis.
Penn State has three impressive scorers in Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy. Lundy averages the fewest points per game of the trio, but he exploded for 31 points versus Maryland.
If the Nittany Lions' top three scorers rack up high totals against Nebraska, it could relegate the Huskers to an early exit and a double-digit scoring difference.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
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