If you can think all the way back to Sunday, the hot number surrounding the Gophers was 5. They got a surprisingly high seed when the brackets were revealed.
Today, as the team gets ready for its first NCAA tourney game in four years, the hot number is +1.
For the smart folks out there who don't speak betting lines, that means Las Vegas has Minnesota as a one-point underdog -- to 12-seed Middle Tennessee.
While that's fairly surprising -- especially here in Big Ten Country, where we have barely heard of the Middle Tennessee Blue Whatevers -- it's not a shocker for those who study these types of things (a.k.a. your friends who bet on all the tourney games).
The 5-12 slot in the tournament is popular upset spot, as you've probably heard this week. On average, more than one 12 seed wins each year. And the bettors among us, who have moved the line two points this week to Middle Tennessee's favor, think the Blue Raiders will add to the tally.
The betting line creates this slightly odd situation: if the Gophers win, THAT will be the upset. Our night editor last night sent a note around reminding editors and writers that "Gophers trying avoid the upset" language is wrong.
The Gophers are not the first 5 seed to get underdog treatment. According to ESPN's Chalk webpage, six 12 seeds have been favored, but none since 1999. (Funny thing about that 1999 game: Rhode Island was a 1-point favorite over Charlotte, and then Charlotte "pulled the upset" by winning by nine.)
Why are people nuts about the 12-seed upsets each year? In 15 of the past 16 tournaments, at least one 12 seed has won. Two won last year.
From purely a betting perspective (stealing another ESPN Chalk stat here), 5-seed favorites are just 11-21 against the point spread since 2009. (Now's a good time to see if your cubical neighbor wants to make a few $5 bets.)
The betting line opened with Minnesota as a one-point favorite. That's where Las Vegas oddmakers put the game, and since then the betting public has moved it two points. People might be excited about Middle Tennessee's hot streak (winners of 20 of its past 21) and their 2016 tournament showing (they pulled a huge upset, knocking off No. 2 seed Michigan State). The Blue Raiders also throttled major-conference school Vanderbilt this season.
Between now and tip-off, it's possible other bettors will take advantage of this line move, bet against "The Public" and move the line to Even, or back in Minnesota's favor.
This all leads to our gambling tip for today: spend the money on a cold beverage and enjoy the game.