Featured Video from Scott Steehn
No. 10 Penn State takes on No. 7 Minnesota in a second-round Big Ten battle on Thursday at 6pmET from Chicago. The Nittany Lions are 7-13 in the Big 10 and not even eligible for the NIT, so they need to win the Big 10 title. Minnesota is 9-11 in the conference (56 Net Ranking) and they need basically to make the finals to have a shot at the NCAA’s. Earlier this season, the Golden Gophers edged PSU, 65-64 at home.
Did Chambers save his job?
Penn State coach Pat Chamber was considered on the hot seat entering this season and not making the NCAA tournament (along with a one-game suspension) won’t help his cause. However, the Nittany Lions are playing about as well as anybody in the Big 10 down the stretch, winning five of their last six. That included a dominant win over No. 24 Maryland, 78-61 at home. However, their other wins came against Illinois (twice), Rutgers and Nebraska. A win over Michigan at home, 75-69 on Feb. 12 was their biggest win on the season but they were off to such a bad start, losing eight straight at one point, they haven’t been able to overcome it.
Great to see #️⃣33 Shep Garner (and Mamma Shep) back for Alumni Weekend at the @JordanCenter 🔵🦁⚪️
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) March 11, 2019
Overall, Penn State leads the league in steals with 7.7 per game and is sixth in turnover margin (+1.1). They average just 69.6 points per game (11th in Big 10) and allow 68.4 points (10th). They rank 13th in field goal percentage (41.7%) and 12th in field goal percentage defense (44.1%). They also don’t shoot the three-point shot well (32.2%) and don’t defend it well (35.5%). Lamar Stevens leads the Nittany Lions with 19.8 points per game with 7.8 rebounds.
Gophers need to get to the finals
Minnesota lost seven of their last 10 games after winning three of four. They beat Purdue on March 5 but fell to Maryland in their season finale, 69-60. The Terps dominated that game and Minnesota was never really able to make it close until the end when the Terps unloaded their bench. The Gophers had won six straight from early December to early January, which included a win at Wisconsin. But they really weren’t able to put together any consistency since then.
One of the issues Minnesota has right now is depth. Eric Curry (6-9, 240), who averaged 4.1 ppg and 3.1 rpg, was just lost recently for the season due to a foot injury. On the season, Amir Coffey leads the team with 16.0 points and 3.2 assists on the season. Forward Jordan Murphy is the top inside target, who also averages 11.7 rebounds per game and is one of the most physical players in the Big Ten. Minnesota averages 71.2 points per game and allows 68.7ppg (11th in Big 10). They struggled defensively, allowing 43.2 percent shooting (11th) and have not been great against the three, as opponents are making 34.2 percent against them (11th).
- 1-4 ATS last 5 neutral site games.
Penn State is:
- 8-1-2 ATS last 11 overall.
- 18-7-2 ATS last 27 neutral site games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Penn State is the hotter team right now, even though Minnesota has a long shot of making the tournament. I’m going with Stevens and Josh Reaves, two talented players, who don’t want to go out this early in the tournament. The Gophers’ lack of defense will catch up with them.
Prediction: Penn State -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams are limited on offense. Penn Stae has gone under in three straight games. They are winning with defense, holding teams to leads than 66 points in their last four games. Minnesota has gone under in four of their last five games. They are 6-0 Under their last 6 after an ATS loss and 8-2 Under their last 10 overall.
Prediction: Under 135.5