Michigan State vs. Penn State Odds & Predictions: Target This Total

Michigan State vs. Penn State Odds & Predictions: Target This Total article feature image

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Joey Hauser & Mady Sissoko (Michigan State)

  • The Michigan State Spartans take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten college basketball action Wednesday night.
  • The Nittany Lions are short favorites in this conference clash, but we see betting value on the over/under.
  • Read on for DJ James' top bet for Michigan State vs. Penn State.

Michigan State vs. Penn State Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 7
6:30 p.m. ET
Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Penn State and Michigan both may be on the cusp of the bubble when March rolls around, but for now, the two Big Ten teams match up on Wednesday.

The Nittany Lions last played last Tuesday, when they dropped a double-overtime game against Clemson.

Without Jaden Akins and Malik Hall, this Michigan State team began to slump. Akins has since returned to the roster, but Hall will be out for a bit, and it has greatly hindered the Spartans' defense. MSU has dropped two in a row to Notre Dame in South Bend and to Northwestern at home.

Even though neither of these teams have thrived on defense, they both play at a tremendously slow pace. Since both have been pretty volatile, it is hard to back a side. The total has value, especially given Penn State’s lack of rebounding ability and both tempos.

Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans only have the 67th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (per KenPom), and this number has progressively plummeted with Hall’s injury. This essentially leaves the entirety of the post-game to Mady Sissoko, as Joey Hauser is playing more of a stretch-four role.

Still, the Spartans have been playing at one of the slowest Adjusted Tempos in the NCAA at 289th. They have utilized 18.5 seconds per possession on average on the offensive end and force opponents to use up around 18 seconds per possession on defense.

The Spartans do not necessarily turn opponents over, but they have limited the opposition to 32.3% from beyond the arc. A team like Penn State — that predominantly shoots 3s — will need another avenue to riddle off points.

Photo by CBB Analytics

The Spartans actually do a solid job of crashing the glass on defense, ranking 79th in that area.

The Nittany Lions are over 300th in the NCAA in offensive rebounding, though, so even without Hall on the floor, MSU will prevent Penn State from getting multiple scoring opportunities each time down the floor.

Adding Hall is a plus — if he was to somehow make it back into the lineup — but Sissoko and Hauser are strong on the glass, averaging at least five boards per game.

A.J. Hoggard is also a good rebounding guard at over four per game.

Penn State Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions hit the fifth-highest percentage of 3s in the NCAA, but they also run at an exceptionally slow pace. They rank 295th in Adjusted Tempo and take up 18.3 seconds per possession on defense.

This — paired with MSU’s tempo — should force this game into a snail’s pace, unless Penn State gets hot from outside.

Notre Dame, a team with an offensive scheme featuring predominantly 3-pointers, shot 11-for-26 against the Spartans. MSU was able to level it out against Northwestern by holding the Wildcats to 30% from deep. Somewhere in the middle is where to expect Penn State to be.

Penn State ranks 353rd in the NCAA in scoring distribution from the free-throw line and on 2-pointers, so if MSU can restrict the Nittany Lions a little bit from outside, there will not be many other spots for Penn State to score from.

Photo by CBB Analytics

Camren Wynter, Seth Lundy, Andrew Funk and Myles Dread are all shooting at least 38% from 3-point range. Luckily for MSU, Walker will probably match up with Wynter, while the others could face Hoggard, Akins and Pierre Brooks.

The Spartans have enough defensive artillery to combat the reign of 3s coming their way.

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Michigan State vs. Penn State Betting Pick

Overall, these two Big Ten bashers play slowly, and as long as MSU restricts Penn State’s outside attack, the scoring should be minimal.

The Spartans have only put up 115 points in their last two contests combined, so the only thing stopping an under in this game is Penn State getting hot for the entirety of the contest.

Take the under at 134.5 (-110), and play it to 133 (-110).

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