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11/26 Big Ten Preview: Minnesota Heads West to San Francisco

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

There are four games scattered throughout the day. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Day

Minnesota Golden Gophers at San Francisco Dons

  • Chase Center
  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET CBSSN
  • Line: San Francisco -4.5

Tonight on CBS Sports Network Minnesota is set to face off against San Francisco at Golden State’s Chase Center.

Minnesota has gone 4-1 so far this year, with four easy wins against mid-majors and a close two point loss to Missouri. The schedule for the Gophers this fall is soft and if they want to make a postseason push this is probably the best remaining chance for a decent non-conference victory. Their opponent is a good but not great WCC school in San Francisco playing the Gophers in an NBA Arena.

Dawson Garcia has been great so far this year, leading Minnesota in scoring (18.8) and rebounds (8.8). No one else on the roster is averaging double figures and Minnesota has been turnover prone. There’s more depth and a deeper rotation than the laughably thin rotation from last year, but the Gophers need to get more out of their starting lineup outside of Garcia. If they can’t get more production elsewhere it’s going to be hard to win games like this on the road.

Jonathan Mogbo is pacing the Dons with 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and whoever plays better between him and Garcia could likely determine who wins today. San Francisco has played a bit loose with the ball, but they’re shooting efficiently and get plenty of players involved on the offensive side of the ball.

San Francisco has the advantage of playing in their own backyard, but Garcia and company find a way to pull off the upset.

Pick: Minnesota

The Rest

Penn State Nittany Lions vs VCU Rams

  • ESPN Events Invitational
  • Time/TV: 10:30 AM ET ESPNU
  • Line: Penn State -1.5

Per KenPom rankings this is a pretty balanced matchup, with Penn State ranking 86th and VCU 92nd. The Nittany Lions have a better offense, though VCU’s stout defense makes up for an offense ranked 169th in adjusted efficiency ratings.

It’s an early tipoff in Florida set for 10:30 AM, which is an odd time for a college basketball game. Penn State’s time in Florida has been a bit underwhelming as they’ve gone 0-2 so far, even though their 12 and 10 point losses to Texas A&M and Butler weren’t particularly bad. So far they’ve gotten a lot out of Kanye Clary in the backcourt (19.5 PPG), while Qudus Wahab’s 9.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game has anchored the frontcourt. They’ll need more from Ace Baldwin Jr., though, if they want to remain competitive versus better opposition.

This morning is a reunion for Penn State head coach Mike Rhoades, as he previously coached VCU. The Rams are coming off of losses to Iowa State and Boise State and haven’t looked great most of the year so far. A thin rotation is highlighted by Max Shulga’s 15.8 points per game, with only Zeb Jackson also averaging double figures. The Rams are averaging just under 15 turnovers and only 66.3 points per game.

Penn State has just enough firepower to get past the Rams early this morning.

Pick: Penn State

Cal State Fullerton Titans at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET Big Ten Plus
  • Line: Nebraska -17.5

Nebraska is still undefeated heading into today’s home game against a sub-200 Cal State Fullerton that should see the Cornhuskers improve to 7-0. For the most part Nebraska has cruised against a laughably soft schedule, with the lone exception being a 10 point win against Duquesne. The return of Keisei Tominaga shores up the backcourt, even if he hasn’t gotten up to speed from three just yet. Juwan Gary’s 17 points leads the team in scoring, while Rienk Mast is adding 14 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Cal State Fullerton enters today 2-3 with three double digit blowout losses. The Titans average 16 turnovers per game and are shooting 26% from three so that doesn’t bode well for a team playing against a Nebraska offense that has looked good so far this year. Nebraska forces plenty of turnovers and remains perfect this afternoon on Big Ten Plus.

Pick: Nebraska

Harvard Crimson at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Indiana -7.5

Indiana returns home today to face a solid-ish Harvard before the schedule ramps back up with the opening to conference play followed by Auburn and Kansas. Indiana’s time in New York didn’t go particularly well, with a 20 point loss to Connecticut and an 8 point win over a comically inept Louisville. That single digit win is a theme, with Indiana beating three mid-majors to open the season by nine or less points. Harvard is arguably the most difficult game so far outside of the Huskies last week.

The Crimson haven’t played anyone of note so far, outside of maybe a nine point loss at Boston College. But Indiana hasn’t shown the ability to easily handle their lesser opposition. The Hoosiers shooting 23.4% from three hasn’t helped much, with Indiana relying predominantly on their inside scoring game. Good thing Kel’el Ware has impressed so far with 15.6 points and 9 rebounds per game. Forward Malik Reneau is also averaging 15 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The backcourt is a work in progress that is desperate need of improvement.

Harvard’s ability to shoot the three and a solid backcourt should once again keep this game closer than Hoosier fans would prefer. Indiana has a considerable talent advantage and should have enough skill inside to edge out a win.

Pick: Indiana