The Michigan Wolverines will travel to the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening as they prepare for a Big 10 Conference showdown versus the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Penn State has battled through a tough year in the Big 10, winning just one of their first 12 conference games to open the season with an unsightly 1-11 mark in league play. Meanwhile, Michigan has claimed the top spot in the conference standings after winning 11 of their first 13 Big 10 games. Can the Wolverines avoid an upset on the road against a hungry Nittany Lions’ team?
Michigan sitting atop Big 10 standings
Michigan won its second straight game on Saturday, upending Wisconsin 61-52 at home behind a strong performance from junior big man Jon Teske. Teske finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Charles Matthews scored a team-high 18 to help the Wolverines stay atop the Big 10 standings.
JON TESKE WITH THE HUGE SLAM pic.twitter.com/Yl7ibpondX
— Wolverine Corner (@WolverineCorner) December 1, 2018
John Beilein has guided the Wolverines to an impressive 22-2 overall record and an 11-2 mark in Big 10 play. Michigan enters Tuesday’s matchup slotted at No. 6 in the latest KenPom rankings and a No.6 in the latest AP Top-25 Polls. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Wolverines pegged as a No.2-seed in his latest NCAA Tournament projections, but it’s hard to believe that the Big 10 Champion won’t end up with a No.1-seed in the tourney given the strength of the league.
The Wolverines come in scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions for the season (37th in the NCAA), but that number has dropped all the way down to 104.1 points per 100 possessions during the conference season (5th in the Big 10). The Wolverines squeeze the orange to get the most out of every possession on offense and they have turned the ball over just 13.7 percent of the time versus Big 10 opponents (1st in the Big 10). The Wolverines have shot 50.2 percent from inside the arc (2nd in the Big 10) and 74.3 percent from the charity stripe as a team (4th in the Big 10) during league play, but just 32.3 percent from the 3-point line (9th in the Big 10).
Instead, the Wolverines have jolted out to their 11-2 start in league play by turning into one of the best defensive teams in the country. Michigan has limited opponents to just 84.6 points per 100 possessions for the season (2nd in the NCAA) and an even more impressive 90.9 points per 100 possessions during league play (1st in the Big 10).
Nittany Lions continue to struggle in Big 10 play
Penn State was unable to build on the momentum of their first Big 10 victory, falling on the road to Ohio State 74-70 on Thursday. Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves each scored 20 points, while Rasir Bolton added 15 in a losing effort for the Nittany Lions, who battled back from a early 15-point deficit to take the lead with 1:32 remaining in the game. However, Penn State was outscored 5-1 over the remainder of the second half to come up short on the road.
FINAL (OT): A valiant comeback effort falls just short as No. 17 Purdue holds off Penn State in overtime, 99-90.
Lamar Stevens leads the Nittany Lions with 24 points while Rasir Bolton adds 18. Mike Watkins records his fifth double-double of the season w/ 10pts, 11reb. pic.twitter.com/R4iPCnAcIK
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) February 1, 2019
Pat Chambers’ squad enters Tuesday’s matchup ranked No. 62 in the latest KenPom rankings despite their ugly 1-11 record in Big 10 play. The Nittany Lions are scoring 106.1 points per 100 possessions (138th in the NCAA) for the year, but that number has decreased to only 94.5 points per 100 possessions versus Big 10 opponents (13th in the Big 10). Penn State sports the worst effective field goal percentage in the conference at 44.6 percent and they have connected on a league-low 28.1 percent of their 3-point attempts during the conference season (14th in the Big 10).
On defense, Penn State has surrendered 95.2 points per 100 possessions for the year (37th in the NCAA) and 104.3 points per 100 possessions during conference play (9th in the Big 10). The Nittany Lions rely on forcing turnovers to get stops on defense, but their added defensive pressure has often led to open looks from beyond the arc. Penn State has forced turnovers on 18.8 percent of their defensive possessions (4th in the Big 10), but opponents are shooting a blistering 40.8 percent from beyond the arc against the Nittany Lions’ defense (14th in the Big 10).
- Nittany Lions are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Nittany Lions are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS win.
- Nittany Lions are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Wolverines are 23-9-1 ATS in their last 33 road games.
- Wolverines are 36-15-1 ATS in their last 52 vs. Big Ten.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This spread seems awfully low for the Wolverines, who are still battling for first place in the Big 10 standings. Eight of Michigan’s last nine conference victories have come by double-digits and it is hard to envision a way in which the Nittany Lions score enough points to contend for 40 minutes in this spot. Penn State relies on forcing turnovers to get stops on defense and Michigan is among the best teams in the country at taking care of the basketball on offense. Take the Wolverines to cover the number in this Big 10 battle on Tuesday night.
Prediction: Pick: Michigan Wolverines -7
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have gone over the projected total in 13 of their last 16 meetings and six consecutive meetings in Penn State. While the Wolverines rank as one of the top defensive teams in the country, they have gone over the projected total in seven straight road games versus a team with a losing record and the over is 20-7 in their last 27 games versus a team with a winning percentage below .400. Meanwhile, Penn State has gone over in seven of their last eight games after covering the spread in their previous matchup. Take this Big 10 battle to go over the projected total on Tuesday night.
Prediction: Over 129