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12/9 Big Ten Preview: Minnesota vs Georgia Southern

Preview the Big Ten’s only matchup for Friday, as Minnesota faces off against Georgia Southern.

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at Minnesota Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Although there’s just one Big Ten game on Friday night, it should be an exciting one for fans as non-conference continues to roll along for the league. The conference has been performing pretty well over the last few days and this should be another chance to add to its win total.

You can preview all the games below. All spreads are based on KenPom.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Georgia Southern at Minnesota

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-12)

Through nine games this season, perhaps no Big Ten team has improved more than Minnesota. After a disastrous 2015-’16 campaign, Minnesota has hit the ground running and already has five wins against teams currently ranked in KenPom’s top 150. Considering that Minnesota had just four wins during all of last season against such teams, the improvement is obvious for anyone to see.

However, Minnesota still faces its fair share of questions. Not only because fans and the media are hesitant to buy into a team that went just 8-23 during last season, but also because the Gophers have shown some inconsistency. Last Tuesday’s near upset loss to NJIT stands out as an example of just that.

Even if fans can feel good about the turnaround, there’s still more room to grow.

Minnesota will have to hope that it can dissuade some of those concerns on Friday night at home against Georgia Southern. Although the Eagles have limped out to a 4-4 start with no quality wins, this is still a dangerous team that could very easily be 6-2 with wins over Florida Gulf Coast and North Carolina State, if it had been just a little better.

The major matchup to watch in this game will be on the wing, where Georgia Southern will line up star sophomore Ike Smith against Minnesota’s Amir Coffey. Both have been excellent so far this season and this could be a great opportunity for Coffey to show he’s a contender for Freshman of the Year.

Minnesota will be a double-digit favorite entering the game, but if there’s one thing that should concern Gopher fans, it’s Georgia Southern’s efficient offense. The Eagles rarely make mistakes on that side of the ball (No. 31 in turnover rate) and maximize possessions on the boards. Minnesota’s defense will have to be active early to try and cause some disruption.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota

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Thomas’ Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 26-26-2