Sunday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Michigan State-Penn State, UCLA-Oregon State

Sunday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Michigan State-Penn State, UCLA-Oregon State article feature image
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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Penn State Nittany Lions forward Mike Watkins (24), Michigan State Spartans forward Nick Ward (44).

With the NFL divisional round continuing to unravel, college basketball doesn’t slow down, either.

No. 2 Michigan State represents one of the two ranked teams in action, traveling to Penn State. Later on, Oregon State and UCLA tangle for a massive Pac-12 showdown.

Where’s the value in these contests? Let’s break them down.


>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.


Betting Odds: Michigan State Spartans at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Spread: Michigan State -8
  • Over/Under: 141
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

The Spartans (12-4 against the spread) are not only expected to be without sharpshooter Joshua Langford (ankle) for the fourth straight game, but wing Kyle Ahrens is questionable (back) as well.

Neither have made a major dent on the glass, which is how the Nittany Lions (6-10 ATS) stayed competitive in a six-point loss at Nebraska, producing 21 offensive rebounds.

Michigan State boasts the size to go toe-to-toe with Penn State’s frontcourt, though, generating the 19th-highest offensive rebounding rate and 64th-highest defensive rebounding percentage in the country.

As expected, the most pivotal matchup comes inside with Nick Ward (16.7 points per game) and Mike Watkins (7.9 ppg). Watkins has evolved into one of the top defensive centers in the Big Ten, but Ward hasn’t by bullied around by length or size all season. Expect him to dominate the paint in State College.

Moreover, the Nittany Lions are yielding a 34.4% clip from deep while the Spartans own the 11th-highest 3-point percentage (39.8%) in the nation, playing inside-out through Ward. The home squad won’t deliver the firepower to hang around, generating the 64th-lowest Effective Field Goal (47.0%) percentage.

MSU is 8-4 (66.7%) ATS as a single-digit favorite, dating back to the 2016-17 regular season. That trend will continue for the 14-2 Spartans.

THE PICK: Michigan State -8

  • Betting Odds: UCLA Bruins at Oregon State Beavers

    • Spread: Oregon State -2.5
    • Over/Under: 148
    • Time: 10 p.m. ET
    • TV: FS1

Who would’ve thought the Bruins (7-9 ATS) — after firing Steve Alford — and the Beavers — projected to finish sixth in the Pac-12 — would be two of four teams tied atop the conference?

With each team thriving down low at both ends, this affair should boil down to size. UCLA owns a slight edge in that vicinity, led by the 7-foot-1 Moses Brown, who’s amassed the third-highest offensive rebounding rate and 35th-highest block percentage in Division I.

He’s been turning the ball over much less of late, too, and presents the athleticism to win a tremendous matchup against the 7-foot Kylor Kelley.

The conference foes are also mirror images of one another from behind the arc, manufacturing a 33.6% and 32.9% clip, respectively.

The Bruins have more potential to play inside-out via the dribble drive, though, guided by the presence of long-range gunner Prince Ali (36.2%).

Given both programs are struggling with miscues, averaging at least 19.6% turnover rate apiece, the pace should be frenetic. That’ll favor UCLA, which has accrued the 19th-highest adjusted tempo in college basketball.

Look for a tightly-contested Pac-12 contest and take the points with the Bruins.

THE PICK: UCLA +2.5