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Penn State vs. Michigan State Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Road Underdog (December 11)

Penn State vs. Michigan State Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Road Underdog (December 11) article feature image

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: John Harrar.

  • The Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan State Spartans go to battle in Saturday Big Ten action.
  • The Spartans are double-digit favorites, but Kody Malstrom thinks the Nittany Lions can keep it close.
  • Check out Malstrom's full betting guide and top bet for the Big Ten battle below.

Penn State vs. Michigan State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 11
2 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

With football coming to an end for our action-packed weekends, it’s basketball’s time to shine. Shine it will, as we have a loaded Saturday slate of games for our viewing pleasure.

One of those games include a Big Ten showdown in East Lansing between the Penn State Nittany Lions, who are 5-4, and the 19th-ranked Michigan State Spartans, sitting at 8-2.

Both teams are coming off of wins in their last outings, but both have plenty of room for improvement. With both offenses trying to find any sort of rhythm, expect this to be a defensive slugfest.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Projected to finish around the middle of the Big Ten in what is once again a very top-heavy conference, Penn State has shown it can at least put up a fight against the big dogs.

Sitting at 5-4, Penn State’s losses involve two close ones against ranked opponents LSU and Ohio State. If you throw away the clunker against UMass, the Nittany Lions would be given a lot more respect.

Ranked near dead last in tempo per Kenpom, Penn State relies on its defense to suffocate and then grind the clock out on the other end. The Nittany Lions don’t generate turnovers or blocked shots, ranking last in both steals and blocks per game as a team in the Big Ten. Instead they force opposing teams to take bad shots by the end of the clock.

If the offense can start to pick up on production, this team would be a Big Ten sleeper. This is a top-heavy team for minutes, with only seven players seeing the court in every game so far.

Forward Seth Lundy and guard Sam Sessoms are the focal point of the offense, averaging 14.3 and 13.4 ppg. Sessoms has been a lethal shooter, shooting an incredible 48% from three and 51.6% from the field.

Jalen Pickett and John Harrar both average double-digit scoring as well, with Harrarr averaging a double double when including rebounds. Other than those four, the Nittany Lions see a drastic dropoff in production.

Worse yet, this is an offense that constantly shoots itself in the foot, as four Nittany Lions are averaging two turnovers or more per game.

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Michigan State Spartans

Hired as the head coach of Michigan State the year I was born in 1995, all I’ve known for the Spartans is head coach Tom Izzo. Highly regarded as one of the best coaches in basketball, Izzo came into this year with one of his weaker squads in program history.

Just because the team lacks big names, that doesn’t mean that Izzo has this team less focused to remain as one of the Big Ten elites.

The Spartans currently sit at 8-2, comfortably beating who they should and dropping games against potential champions in Kansas and Baylor. They have respectable wins over UConn and Louisville thanks to their defense.

Speaking of defense, good luck scoring on Michigan State as this unit is top five in the nation in AdjD per Kenpom. Teams have been hard pressed to score on the Spartans, especially near the rim. Ranking first in blocks per game in the Big Ten, opponents will be pressed to rely on their shooting.

While the defense has been elite, the offense has been the Achilles heel so far this season.

Ranking 52nd in AdjO per Kenpom, the Spartans have been shooting themselves out of games. They play nine deep, with only Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. averaging double-digit scoring.

Michigan State will need to find offensive answers and fast if it wants to be a real contender.

The Spartans rely the bulk of ball movement between Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard, with no one else averaging more than two assists a game. This has resulted in stalled-out possessions and poor shot selections, exactly what Penn State will be looking to continue.

Penn State vs. Michigan State Betting Pick

I still need to see it. Michigan State lucked into a win against UConn, shooting the lights out early in that one and not allowing the Huskies to come back.

If the narrative changed in that one, then the Spartans would not have a single impressive win in my eyes other than Louisville who was ice cold.

Do I think Penn State gets the upset? No. But I do believe its defense can hang around long enough to cover the spread.

Expect a slow, grind-it-out slugfest as both units pride themselves on defense. Penn State will look to lull Michigan State into bad shot selections with its limited passing ability and then will drastically slow the game down.

Pick: Penn State +10.5

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