Big Ten Basketball Picks: Penn State Nittany Lions at #9 Michigan State Spartans

Penn State Nittany Lions at #9 Michigan State Spartans
Jack Breslin Student Events Center – East Lansing, Michigan

Thursday, February 6, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Michigan State -14 
Current Line: Michigan State -13 1/2
Opening Total: 142
Current Total; 141
Opening Money Line: Michigan State -1300 / Penn State +810
Current Money Line: Michigan State -1300 / Penn State +810


Michigan State is heavily favored to beat Penn State Thursday night.
Michigan State is heavily favored to beat Penn State Thursday night.

The 21-3 Michigan State Spartans are in second place in the Big Ten with an 8-1 record, a half game behind Michigan for first. The Spartans host the 12-10 Penn State Nittany Lions Thursday night. The Nittany Lions are 3-6 in the Big Ten and tied for tenth with Nebraska.

Michigan State leads the series against Penn State 31-7, including 19-1 in East Lansing. Three of Penn State’s 7 wins in the series have come in the last 3 seasons. Michigan State beat Penn State 79-63 in State College December 31 in the Big Ten opener for both schools. Penn State led by 12 points in the first half before the Spartans rallied.

Penn State is coached by Patrick Chambers. The Nittany Lions have losses to Bucknell, Ole Miss in Brooklyn, at Pittsburgh, Princeton, Michigan State, at Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, at Michigan, and at Purdue. Penn State has won 3 straight games after a six game losing streak to open Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions have key wins at Penn, LaSalle, St. John’s in Brooklyn, Marshall, at Duquesne, Nebraska, at Ohio State, and Purdue Sunday 79-68. Penn State is 10-8-1 ATS and the total is 12-7 this season.

Penn State is outscoring teams 75-72 this season. The Nittany Lions are shooting 44.6% from the field and 32.8% from 3 point range.  Penn State is #40 in free throw shooting at 74.1% from the line. Nittany Lion opponents are shooting 40.8% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. Penn State averages 35.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 32.4 per game. The Nittany Lions average 12 assists, 10.5 turnovers, 4.3 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.2 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 4.1 blocks per game.

Guard D.J. Newbill averages 17.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Guard Tim Frazier averages 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Forward Brandon Taylor averages 10.3 points, 5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Forward Ross Travis averages 9.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1 assist per game. Guard John Johnson averages 7.8 points and 1 rebound per game. Forward Donovan Jack averages 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Allen Roberts, Graham Woodward, Geno Thorpe, and Jordan Dickerson will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have losses at home to North Carolina and Michigan plloss to Georgetown 64-60 Saturday in new York City. Michigan State has lost two of their last 3 games after an 11 game winning streak. Michigan State also has key wins over Kentucky in Chicago, Columbia, Portland, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in a tournament in Brooklyn, Oakland in Auburn Hills, at Texas, at Penn State, Indiana twice, Ohio State, Minnesota, at Northwestern, at Illinois and at Iowa. Michigan State is 11-8-2 ATS and the total is 10-11 this season.

Michigan State is outscoring teams 78-65 this season. The Spartans are #41 in scoring and #48 in points allowed nationally. MSU is shooting 47.2% from the field and 37.9% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #52 or better nationally in both categories. Michigan State makes 68.8% of their free throws. Spartan opponents are shooting 38.4% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. Michigan State is #12 in opponents’ field goal percentage nationally. The Spartans average 38.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.7 per game. MSU is #36 in rebounding nationally. The Spartans average 17.3 assists, 11.4 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.5 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Guard Gary Harris averages 18.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. Center Adreian Payne averages 16.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. He is probable with a foot injury after missing the last 7 games. Guard Keith Appling averages 15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Branden Dawson averages 10.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He is out until late February with a broken hand. Guard Denzel Valentine averages 7.7 points, 6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.1 steal per game. Guard Travis Trice averages 6.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Kenny Kaminski and Matt Costello will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Costello leads the team in blocks at 1.6 per game.

Penn State is 7-2-1 ATS after a straight up win, 6-2-1 in road games, 5-2-1 after a cover and against teams with winning home records, 3-7 against teams with winning records, and in Big Ten games, and 3-8 overall.

Michigan State is 4-1 ATS after a straight up loss, and 9-4 overall. The over is 9-4 in the last 13 in this series and 5-0 in east Lansing recently. The home team has covered 5 of the last 6 games in this series.

Although Penn State has won 3 straight games, those wins came against mediocre Nebraska and Purdue teams, and a slumping Ohio State team. Michigan State has lost two of three but Payne coming back makes them a more dangerous team. Michigan State should win easily at home.

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