Here Gopher, Gopher, Gopher…

It’s close to 4 AM, and I’m buzzing like a celebrity in Studio 54 so I’ll keep this short…You can also check out a Minnesota blogger’s preview of this game at Paging Jim Shikenjanski

PSU is a 2-point favorite tomorrow against Minnesota (2 PM ET, Big Ten Network). I can’t say I’m too surprised considering how even the two teams are, aside from the fact that they sport nearly identical overall records (10-4 for PSU, 11-3 for Minny), both teams have been very competitive against the bigger-name opponents thus far. Minny hung tough in a six-point defeat at Michigan State while the Fighting DeChellises won at Illinois for the second straight time last Sunday.

Both teams also feature solid inside play, Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley lead PSU of course, while Dan Coleman (14.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Spencer Tollackson (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) will be a handful for us to handle inside.

In the backcourt department, I have to give the advantage to Danny Morrissey and the speedy point guard duo of Talor Battle/Stanley Pringle, all this despite the fact that Minnesota features a dyn-o-mite 3-point bomber who comes off their bench in Blake Hoffbarer. You might know Blake as a YouTube celebrity for his improbable “winning the state title while lying on his back” shot that inspired armchair point guards nationwide last year.

The advantage belongs to Tubby Smith in the coaching department, hands-down. I dunno how he recruited so poorly at Kentucky, but there is no denying that he gets the most out of his players. The fact that he already has 11 wins with practically the same Minnesota squad that failed to reach double digits in wins last season is a credit to Tubby’s coaching ability and perhaps a sign that he was under appreciated in Lexington.

Still, I’m going to pick PSU to cover the spread and pull a Tom Emanski (back-to-back-to-back) in Big Ten winning streaks for the first time since the Bryce Jordan Center was brand new and major music acts would show up to play (as opposed to the shitty country arists and third-rate pop-rock bands like Nickelback showing up these days). This has to do with the fact that I’m totally drinking the blue and white kool-aid after back-to-back road wins plus the fact that we’re undefeated in the BJC and I don’t want to see that come to an end tomorrow.

We’ll see what Rants From The District decides to do with his pick, but to recap the standings in the contest:

Happy Hour Valley 5-0

Rants From The District 4-1

Also, here’s a few other picks from some bigger games in college hoops:

  • I’m taking UNC (-20) and the points over NC State right now. Tyler Hansbrough has been flat-out unstoppable (see: dunking past the Jolly Green Giant) and the Tar Heels also feature dangerous perimeter shooters such as Wayne Ellington should teams decide to focus their defensive tenacity on Hansbrough. Look for UNC to force the tempo early against a Wolfpack team that wants to slow things down
  • I like UConn (+10) to beat the spread, but not beat Georgetown. Georgetown’s just way too talented/disciplined for the Huskies to take them out, particularly on the road. Look for a quality battle in the paint between UConn’s Hasheem “We Got” Thabeet (eat your heart out, Chris Berman) and GTown’s Roy Hibbert,.
  • Kansas (-10.5) will beat Nebraska in Lincoln, though I like Nebraska to beat the spread. KU is just a flat-out better team that is currently clicking on all cylinders and features five different players average 10+ ppg scoring but I like the Huskers with their newfound home-court advantage (they already upset Oregon at home earlier this season) to keep things interesting to the very end. Aleks Maric will be a beast down low for the Cornhuskers, who are looking to give fans something to cheer about after a clusterfuck of a football season.
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