Vegas makes Gophers favorites over Bruins
MAR 18, 2013 11:18a ET
MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers basketball team liked the draw it received in the NCAA tournament, and apparently Las Vegas does, too.
When the odds for each tournament game were released Sunday night, 11th-seeded Minnesota was actually favored by three points over No. 6 UCLA, according to VegasInsider.com. That means the Gophers are one of only two lower-seeded teams to actually be favored in the Round of 64. The other is No. 9 Missouri, which is currently a three-point favorite over No. 8 Colorado State.
Comparatively, the rest of the No. 11 seeds are all underdogs by at least 3.5 points, as is the case with 11th-seeded Bucknell against Butler. Belmont, another 11 seed, is four-point underdogs against Arizona. The fourth 11 seed will be determined in the First Four round in a game between St. Mary's and Middle Tennessee State. The winner of that game will be up against Memphis, which will likely be the favorite.
The most heavily-favored team in the Round of 64? That would be top-seeded Gonzaga, which is favored by 22.5 points over Southern University. Florida and Kansas are also 20-point favorites in their respective matchups against Northwestern State and Western Kentucky.
Helping the Gophers' odds against UCLA is the fact that the Bruins will be without Jordan Adams, who will miss the tournament with a broken foot. The 6-foot-5 freshman was UCLA's second-leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points per game. But he was injured in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament in a win against Arizona.
If Adams were healthy and playing for the Bruins, there's a good chance Minnesota — which enters the tournament with a clean bill of health — might not be the favorite in this matchup. Without Adams, though, UCLA enters as a three-point underdog.
The Gophers have already won several games this year in which they were facing teams ranked higher than them. That includes a home win against No. 20 Wisconsin when Minnesota was unranked, and of course an upset of top-ranked Indiana in late February.
"We feel like we can play with just about anyone," Gophers head coach Tubby Smith said Sunday, shortly after his team earned a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Even with the wins against ranked opponents, Minnesota enters the tournament with an 8-10 record in the Big Ten after losing its final two regular-season games. The Gophers were bounced from the Big Ten tournament by Illinois in the first round.
Minnesota and UCLA will face off on Friday in Austin, Texas, in the South region. The Gophers' game is scheduled to start at 8:57 p.m. CT, with the game broadcast on truTV.
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