College Basketball Odds & Picks for Penn State vs. Iowa (Saturday, Jan. 22)

College Basketball Odds & Picks for Penn State vs. Iowa (Saturday, Jan. 22) article feature image

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Keegan Murray.

  • The Iowa Hawkeyes host the Penn State Nittany Lions at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for some Saturday afternoon Big Ten action.
  • The Hawkeyes are coming off of their worst offensive performance since the Todd Lickliter era, so they should be motivated to get right.
  • Check out Anthony Dabbundo's top bet for this Big Ten battle below.

Penn State vs. Iowa Odds

Saturday, Jan. 22
4:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
Iowa Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Iowa finally brought some defense to a Big Ten game and held Rutgers to 48 points on the road at the RAC on Wednesday night. Somehow, the Hawkeyes lost in controversial fashion after a soft foul on Keegan Murray gave Rutgers two free throws and the 48-46 win in the final seconds.

Next up is a get-right spot for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes return home to Iowa City to host improving Penn State on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions have covered five consecutive games in Big Ten play under new head coach Micah Shrewsberry, beating Indiana, Northwestern and Rutgers in the process. Close losses to Ohio State and Purdue are far from a knock on Penn State's résumé.

This is a classic matchup of contrasting styles, as the elite Iowa offense tries to go uptempo and run up and down the floor against a Penn State snail that ranks in the bottom 10 in adjusted pace and whose defense does little to force live ball transition opportunities.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State's improved defense has driven the streak of five consecutive covers.

When you play as slow as the Nittany Lions do, it doesn't take the opposing offense to miss a ton for your team to be in the game as an underdog. That's what happened in the Nittany Lions' closes loss to Ohio State and win over Indiana.

Ohio State made just three 3s in the entire game, while the Hoosiers shot 4-of-17 from beyond the arc.

PSU ranks in the bottom 50 in shot-blocking, turnover rate and steal rate, so Iowa will generate plenty of looks in this game. And given the quality of shots PSU's perimeter defense allows, the Hawkeyes should be able to execute their offense and get the looks they want everywhere on the court.

Penn State's John Harrar is a good natural foil to Murray on the inside, and he's a reason that the Nittany Lions defend the rim pretty well, but Iowa doesn't need interior offensive scoring to be successful in this matchup.

The Hawkeyes do like to score at the rim when possible (fifth in near proximity attempt rate, per Haslametrics) but they'll also be able to get in transition when the Nittany Lions turn it over.

Penn State has to take care of the ball if it wants to control the tempo and slow it to a crawl, and that's not something that the Nittany Lions have done successfully. They also don't get to the line often, ranking 219th in turnover rate and 307th in free-throw rate.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa ranks 19th in turning steals into points at the other end of the court, and that's a very concerning stat for a Penn State offense with turnover issues.

The Hawkeyes have made just 11-of-49 from 3 in the last two games on the road in Big Ten play, but now they get to come home against a PSU defense with defensive regression coming from the perimeter.

There should be some positive shooting regression coming for Fran McCaffery's squad that had a 76.9 adjusted offensive efficiency in the loss to Rutgers, the worst that any Iowa offense has had in the McCaffery era. Not since the end of the Todd Lickliter era in 2010 have the Hawkeyes been as bad on offense as they were on Wednesday night.

The Iowa defense is most vulnerable on the interior, where it allows a ton of shots at the rim generally and doesn't do a great job of defending said shots.

But Penn State's 3-point attempt rate has been steadily creeping upward all season, so the Nittany Lions are probably going to try to shoot themselves into this game.

If Penn State makes shots at a high clip, it probably covers. But long misses lead to long rebounds and run-outs in transition, where the Hawkeyes are deadly and will punish the Nittany Lions.

So, it's not hard to see how Iowa puts together a few extended scoring runs in transition to extend this lead.

Penn State vs. Iowa Betting Pick

Penn State plays slow enough that it could be worth a look as an underdog in a better spot. But we've reached what I think is the peak of the market on Penn State following five consecutive covers and some impressive wins vs. Indiana and at Northwestern.

The Nittany Lions will get way fewer shots up in this game, have perimeter defensive regression coming and face Iowa in a nightmare spot after the Hawkeyes had their worst offensive game in a decade.

The difference in turnover rate and block rate between these two teams means Iowa will get better looks from the rim and the perimeter, while Penn State's improved defense has less to do with forcing mistakes and more to do with opponents missing spots.

It's a lot of points, but Iowa should rout Penn State at home on Saturday. I'd play anything less than double digits.

Pick: Iowa -9.5 or better

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Doug Ziefel
Jul 13, 2024 UTC