Michigan State at Penn State Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/16/2013
Michigan State is a very good basketball team. They are loaded with talent, they are 14-3 and 3-1 in the tough Big Ten, and they are built to do some damage in the spring. The problem, though, is that they have yet to really show what they are capable of. They have struggled with consistency, they have made winning much tougher than it needs to be in some cases, and they turn the ball over with alarming frequency. When they are good, though — as they were when they beat Kansas in November — they are very good. When they are bad — like when they got outclassed by Miami — they are pretty lousy. The trick with this team isn’t evaluating their potential but guesstimating the extent to which they will show up.
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Penn State (8-8, 0-4 in Big Ten) just isn’t very good at basketball. That’s far from surprising — they rarely are. Their shooting is so bad (38.9 percent from the field) that they couldn’t hit a wall if they could reach out and touch it. They don’t have a lot of talent, and their hopes were essentially extinguished when senior and all-everything star for the team Tim Frazier went down with an Achilles injury in November. D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Mississippi, has been solid, but in recent games his shooting has been even worse than the team average. The Big Ten is head and shoulders above the rest of the country this year, and the Nittany Lions are going to struggle to win many games. But can they stay close enough to cover?
Michigan State at Penn State Betting Storylines
We’ve talked about how bad Penn State is shooting, but the Spartans need to tune up their shooting game if they want to have some success here, too. They were in no danger of losing their last game — it was only against Nebraska, after all — but they shot it horribly. Four key guards — Harris, Appling, Valentine and Trice — were a combined 4-for-26 on the day. That’s 15.4 percent, and that’s just not very good. They were fine because Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix carried the load, but they can’t always rely on that.
The team got some very good news regarding Dawson this week. He’s playing on a surgically repaired left knee, and last game it looked certain that he had injured it again. He was on the bench hiding his head under a towel in obvious pain after an on-court incident. While the worst seemed inevitable, he has received a clean bill of health, has practiced, and he will start this game. It’s a good thing, too — Dawson is the engine that makes this version of the Spartans run.
Penn State can look back to some distant history for hope here. They beat the Spartans 66-62 the last time the teams met in Happy Valley, Jan. 8 of 2011. In looking back to that game, though, they’ll want to be sure not to catch a glimpse of Sunday’s debacle. They were at Purdue — a team that is hardly dominant this year. If Penn State is going to win anything this year then Nebraska, Iowa and Purdue are the most likely targets. With that in mind, it’s hard not to feel that things are bleak for the team. They lost 60-42, and didn’t even play as well as the score suggests. They shot just 25.9 percent as a team, and they looked confused and outclassed. You have to give them credit for not playing like they are defeated, but the problem is that they clearly are almost every time they take the field against good competition. The Spartans are, needless to say, good competition.
Michigan State at Penn State College Basketball Odds and Betting Trends
The Spartans have opened as 12-point favorites — a hefty number on the road. Despite that, they are the choice of about two-thirds of bettors in early action. The total is set at 124.
Michigan State is 7-2 ATS in their last nine Wednesday night games but just 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games. Nine of their last 12 road games have gone “under” the total. Penn State is 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight against the Big Ten.
Michigan State at Penn State Picks and NCAA Basketball Predictions
Twelve points is a whole lot of points — especially in a game that isn’t likely to be particularly high-scoring. In cases like this I will look hard for a reason to believe in the underdog. I can’t find one here, though. The matchups are brutal. The Lions are in a slump and coming off their worst game of the year. Michigan State won by 10 against Nebraska last time out, and they played very poorly. A better effort and they will win by more — especially because this team is no better than the Huskers. I’m forced to hope for the best and take the Spartans.
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