Northwestern Wildcats vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Pick & Prediction MARCH 9th 2024

Northwestern will try to snap a two-game skid when it hosts Minnesota on Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both Big Ten Conference teams in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats (20-10, 11-8 Big Ten) are coming off losses to Iowa and Michigan State in the past week. Both of those losses came by single digits.

Meanwhile, Minnesota (18-12, 9-10) will try to finish its resurgent regular season by posting a .500 record in conference play. The Golden Gophers have endured sub-.500 records in the Big Ten for each of the previous six seasons.

Northwestern needs a win to bolster its resume for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are looking to make the tournament for the second year in a row and the third time overall under coach Chris Collins.

Collins said he was excited for his players to finish the regular season on their home court.

“I just think it’s a great opportunity,” Collins said. “Obviously, you come into the year, and (now) you can say you had an opportunity on the last day of the season to get 12 conference wins and have a chance to be a top-four seed in the Big Ten tournament and potentially get a double bye, potentially tie for third place in the league. I think those are three things that, as you set goals at the start of the year, you want to be in position to do those things.

“Obviously, (it will be) Senior Night, you want to be able to finish out the home slate, all of those things. To say it’s a must-win? I mean, I think this time of year, I think every team should kind of view their games as must-win games. We’re in the middle of March. You have to start playing all these games as if they’re postseason games.”

Minnesota is looking to bounce back from a 70-58 loss to Indiana on Wednesday. The Golden Gophers see Saturday’s finale as a chance to create positive momentum heading into the conference tournament.

“It’s very important to end the season the right way,” forward Pharrel Payne said. “If we can take these wins and reflect on the whole season and take it into next year, we can probably do something (big).”

–Field Level Media

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