NCAA basketball Indiana Hoosiers (8-9, 7-9-1 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-9, 6-8-1 ATS), Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Thursday, Jan. 21th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN2
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Lions -9/Hoosiers +9
A couple of Big 10 teams in dire need of victories if they’ve got any hope at all of making the post-season hook up as the Penn State Nittany Lions host the Indiana Hoosiers Thursday night.
Most online betting shops opened this game with Penn State favored by eight points, with a total of 129. But the Lions have quickly been bet up to -9 and even -9 , and the total has been bumped to upwards of 131.
The Hoosiers had four starters back from last year, but were still expected to finish near the bottom of the Big 10 standings this season. And they went just 6-6 through the non-conference part of their schedule, which included a neutral-court win over Pittsburgh but losses to Boston U, George Mason and Loyola-Maryland. Indiana then began its Big 10 slate with a win over Michigan, but then lost three straight, to Ohio State, Illinois and the Wolverines. The Hoosiers broke their skid last Sunday when they built an early 14-point lead over Minnesota, blew it, but eventually won in overtime 81-79. So at 2-3 Indiana sits in eighth place in Big 10 play.
Penn State, with three starters back from the team that won the NIT title last year, went 8-4 in non-conference play to start this season, which included a win over Virginia but not much else. And that non-con slate doesn’t seem to have helped the Lions prepare for the Big 10 season, because they’re off to an 0-5 start to conference play. They opened with a five-point loss at Minnesota, and have also fallen by one point at Illinois and, last Saturday, by three points at Illinois. And now the Lions are playing around with their starting lineup, and getting no better results.
One of Penn State’s bigger problems is their lack of diversity on offense. Junior G Talor Battle is averaging 18 PPG this season, but none of his teammates are averaging even eight PPG.
On the season the Lions are shooting 43% from the floor as a team, 33.5% from 3-point range and 70% from the free-throw line. Defensively Penn State is holding opponents to 42% FG shooting and is outrebounding foes by 4.5 per game.
Indiana is shooting 43.5% from the field this season, 35% from beyond the arc and 65.5% from the stripe. The Hoosiers are limiting opponents to 41.5% FG shooting, and are outrebounding them, but just by 1.3 per game.
Now halfway through their second season under Coach Crean, the Hoosiers are still looking for their first true road victory. Indiana went 0-11 straight up and 5-6 ATS on the road last season, and they’re 0-2 both SU and vs. the numbers as a true visiting team this season.
Indiana took a hit about three weeks ago when freshman G Maurice Creek, who was leading the team in scoring at 16 PPG, was lost for the season to a fractured knee.
Penn State beat Indiana three times last season; twice in the regular season by scores of 65-55 and 61-58, and in the first round of the Big 10 tournament 66-51. All three of those games stayed UNDER the posted totals.
Both these teams are 7-6 on the totals this season. But Hoosiers games are averaging 141 points per, thanks in part to the 11th-ranked scoring defense in the Big 10, while Lions games are averaging 128 points.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate Penn State at +2.7 over Indiana. Along with Sagarin’s updated college basketball home-court advantage figure of 4.1, the Lions are seven-point favorites over the Hoosiers for Thursday’s game on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man’s Pick: I like Penn State to cover the spread!