College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Penn State vs. Ohio State (Sunday, Jan. 16)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Pickett.
Penn State vs. Ohio State Odds
|Penn State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Ohio State Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Nittany Lions, winners of three of their last four games, will look to tack on another W on Sunday as they travel to Columbus to take on the No. 16 Buckeyes. However, they have already suffered a loss once this season to Ohio State, losing 64-76 at home on December 5.
But there will be a significant change for Penn State compared to when it last saw the Buckeyes. In Tuesday’s game against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions had their entire roster available for the first time this season.
Greg Lee missed the first nine games of the season with an injury, and since his return he has been a key piece for the Lions, averaging 6.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. His six rebounds per game ranks second on the team. JUCO transfer Jevonnie Scott played his first game against Rutgers providing key big-man depth for Penn State.
Penn State also showed some serious determination recently. Coming off of a 22-day layoff due to COVID-19 issues, the Lions played four games in nine days and went 3-1 during that stretch.
Ohio State, meanwhile, is a perfect 7-0 in home games this season and posts a 10-4 overall record and 4-2 mark in Big Ten play. Yet, Ohio State’s two conference losses have come in its last three games. Its most recent came against Wisconsin in their last game where it lost 78-68.
Ohio State leads the series all time over Penn State at 42-19, boasting a 22-6 advantage in home games. The Nittany Lions have also not won in Columbus since Jan. 25, 2018. Will they be able to get their first win at Ohio State in almost four years?
Senior transfer Jalen Pickett is the only Big Ten player averaging at least 17.5 points and 4.2 assists in conference games so far this season. He also is the only player to have a points-assists double-double in a Big Ten game this season, while shooting at 45.7% from the field.
But he doesn’t even lead the Nittany Lions in scoring overall this season, on honor belonging to Seth Lundy who is posting 14.1 points per game compared to Picketts’ 13.4. As a team Penn State has been very balanced this year. Four Nittany Lions are averaging double-digit points per game.
Penn State hasn’t been particularly great on scoring as a whole, however, averaging just 67.2 points per game. Instead it leans heavily on its defense.
The Penn State defense has been dominant over the last four games, holding its opponents to just 62.8 points per contest. The Nittany Lions are third in the Big Ten, allowing 65 points per game,. They rank 10th in opponent field goal percentage at 41.8%. This has been due largely to their pace of play. Nationally, Penn State ranks No. 347 out of 358 with just 65.3 possessions per game. Penn State has also held eight of its last 11 opponents to at least 10 points under their season scoring averages entering the game.
Ohio State will be a tough challenge for the Lions, even with all its players available. The Buckeyes offense ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 75.6 points per game, while also posting a field goal percentage of 48.3%, which ranks second in the conference. Ohio State shot 50.9% in its win over Penn State on December 5.
Malaki Branham is second on the team in scoring at 10.4 points per game, but in the last four games he has been even more impressive. Over the last four games he has averaged 24 points while hitting field goals at a 58% clip.
On defense the Buckeyes have been solid, allowing opposing teams to score 70.4 points per game. But one area they have had issues in is offensive rebounds. The Buckeyes rank 228th in the nation, allowing opposing teams to average 8.9 offensive rebounds per game.
Penn State vs. Ohio State Betting Pick
Penn State lost by just eight in the last meeting between these two teams, and while I think Ohio State will come away with the win, 9.5 points is too many to lay in this game.
Penn State is 4-2 against the spread as an underdog, and it has players back it was without in the last meeting against the Buckeyes. Take Penn State as low as +8.5.