It has been a year to forget for both Penn State and Ohio State as their postseason hopes look bleak. Injuries derailed the Buckeyes season, never being able to find any continuity which led to sloppy play. Penn State started off hot, only to stumble and fall back hard to reality in the midst of a losing stretch. Both on the bubble or not too far off from it, both looking to get a win in what may be a crucial tipping point for their hopes. Who will get the win in this Big Ten battle?
Penn State Vs. Ohio State Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Over 141.5
With that said I will put an initial piece on the over of 141.5 for small, waiting to see where money takes this as we near tip off. It’s an intriguing matchup on paper for our over ticket as both units are top-30 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency while both are on the wrong side of 100 in Adjusted Defense Efficiency. Pace certainly poses an issue as both units run at a snail’s pace, but the quality of looks should be consistently there for both to capitalize on.
Penn State plays a more critical role towards our over ticket as they live or die by perimeter production. This style of play is a lot more inconsistent than what we could expect from Ohio State. They have seemingly been on the wrong side of variance for the season but have been picking it up as of late by winning their last two. Open looks will come at a consistent rate as Ohio State has struggled to defend the perimeter. Especially off of pick and rolls, failing to properly scramble and make up the lost ground.
As for the Buckeyes, they run a brunt of their offense from the interior. Penn State is relatively small per league average, giving up high quality looks at the rim to any opposing productive big men. This bodes well for the Buckeyes who’s top three scorers come from the forward position, accounting for 53.8% of their total scoring. The lack of interior defense is especially vital for Zed Key to get back into a rhythm, struggling since his return from injury. Hardly his own fault as he has noticeably winced in pain and held his shoulder at times since his return.
Penn State Vs. Ohio State Odds
Oddsmakers have it as near a 50/50 as it can get without it being a pick’em, opening the Buckeyes as a -0.5 favorite on their home court. Bettors have sided with Ohio State as well, taking them up to -1.5 as of writing in some shops. Even with a horrible record, Ohio State always possessed the talent to be a threat. They just never had the opportunity, now sitting at a lowly 11-16. They have as good a chance as any to snap their losing streak, potentially building momentum into the Big Ten tournament.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 141.5. Bettors have been perplexed by the number, failing to make a stand at either end by keeping it the same since the opening. This lack of movement actually comes as a surprise as both defenses have been practically non-existent while their offense has played at an efficient rate. Projections have this a tad bit higher, bringing intrigue towards this lack of movement.
Penn State Vs. Ohio State Key Matchups
Will either unit be able to capitalize on second chance opportunities?
Battle of the boards
A key factor to cashing in on any over ticket is a team’s ability to generate second chance scoring opportunities through offensive rebounds. Ohio State does just that, relentlessly attacking the boards with their interior presence.
While Ohio State excels at this area, this is an area for Penn State. Their offensive identity revolves around generating looks from the perimeter, taking their interior presence away from attacking the glass.
This makes it especially vital for the Nittany Lions to capitalize on their open looks. A scoring lull on their end would be detrimental to our over ticket, a big reason for why my initial wager is only for small.
I will take the opening over for a small wager. I will also monitor line movement as we near tip off, potentially adding more should the total move in the opposite direction.