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

Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan State Spartans
Breslin Center – East Lansing, Michigan

Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Network
Opening Line: Michigan State -12 1/2
Current Line: Michigan State -12
Opening Total: 133
Current Total: 132 1/2
Opening Money Line: MSU -1000 / PSU +700
Current Money Line: MSU -900 / PSU +600

Michigan State is a 12 point favorite against Penn State Wednesday night.
Michigan State is a 12 point favorite against Penn State Wednesday night.

The Michigan State Spartans are used to competing for Big Ten titles and going to Final Fours. However, this year the Spartans are rebuilding and are 12-6 this season. Even making the NCAA tournament isn’t a given as the Spartans are on the bubble.  Michigan State hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions Wednesday in Big Ten action. Penn State is also 12-6 this season. The Spartans are 3-2 in the Big Ten and tied for sixth with Purdue. Penn State is 0-5 in conference and in last place.

Michigan State leads the series 33-7 against Penn State including 20-1 in East Lansing. This series dates back to 1929. The Spartans won both meetings last year 79-63 at Penn State and 82-67 in East Lansing. This is the only scheduled meeting this season between Michigan State and Penn State.

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Penn State is coached by Patrick Chambers. The Nittany Lions went 12-1 in non-conference play with the only loss coming to Charlotte in a tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. Penn State looks to snap a five game losing streak. The Nittany lions have Big Ten road losses to Wisconsin, Rutgers and Indiana, and home losses to Michigan and Purdue last Saturday 84-77 in overtime. Penn State has key home wins over Fordham, Akron, Virginia Tech, Duquesne, George Washington and Dartmouth. The Nittany Lions have neutral site wins over Cornell and USC in Charleston, and Drexel in Allentown, Pennsylvania, along with road wins over Bucknell and Marshall. Penn State is 5-11 ATS and the total is 5-5 this season. The Nittany Lions were 1 point favorites against Purdue and the total was 134.5.

Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo. The Spartans have neutral site losses to Duke in Indianapolis and Kansas in a tournament in Orlando. Michigan State has road losses at Notre Dame and Maryland 75-59 last Saturday, along with home losses to Texas Southern and Maryland. The Maryland loss Saturday snapped a 3 game winning streak for Michigan State. The Spartans have home wins over Santa Clara, Oakland, Eastern Michigan, Indiana and Northwestern, neutral site wins over Rider and Marquette in Orlando, along with road wins over Navy and Iowa. Michigan State is 10-8 ATS and the total is 9-6-2 this season. The Spartans were 2.5 point underdogs at Maryland and the total was 132.


Penn State is outscoring teams 70-68 this season. The Nittany Lions are shooting 43.6% from the field including 31.7% from 3 point range. Penn State makes 69.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field including 33.3% from 3 point range. The Nittany Lions average 36.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.3 per game. Penn State averages 10.1 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 6.1 steals and 3.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.7 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.

Penn State guard D.J. Newbill averages 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Brandon Taylor averages 9.6 points and 6.1 assists per game. Shep Garner averages 9.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Geno Thorpe averages 8.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Guard John Johnson is suspended indefinitely. He averaged 7.4 points. Ross Travis, Donovon Jack, and Jordan Dickerson will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Michigan State is outscoring teams 74-62 this season. The Spartans are shooting 48% from the field including 40.1% from 3 point range. Michigan State is #27 or better nationally in both categories. The Spartans are #326 in free throw shooting out of 353 teams at 63.2% from the line. Opponents are looking 38.1% from the field and 30% from 3 point range. The Spartans are #40 or better in both categories. MSU averages 39 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.9. The Spartans are #54 or better in both categories. Michigan State averages 18 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.9 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

MSU guard Denzel Valentine averages 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Travis Trice averages 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Brandon Dawson averages 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Bryn Forbes averages 9.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Matt Costello averages 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1 block per game. Gavin Schilling averages 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Marvin Clark, Jr., Javon Bess and Lourawls Nairn, Jr. will also get minutes in the rotation.

Penn State is 4-10 ATS  against teams with winning records, 2-5 against Big Ten teams, 3-9 after failing to  cover, 5-15 overall, 2-6 against teams with winning home records, 2-7 in road games, and 1-6 after a straight up loss. The over is 10-4 in this series recently including 6-0 at Michigan State.

Michigan State is 7-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 4-1 in Wednesday games, 20-6 after a straight up loss, 8-3 at home, and 7-3 in Big Ten games. The home team is 6-1 ATS in this series recently. The Spartans have covered 7 of the last 10 at home against the Nittany Lions.

Even though Michigan State is struggling by their standards, they are still better than Penn State. The Spartans should win this game comfortably to get back on track.

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