Mississippi State & Penn State Go ‘Over’ in NIT Semifinal

penn state hoops

Willie Bee

Monday, March 26, 2018 1:41 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 26, 2018 1:41 PM UTC

A couple of schools known more for football than basketball collide in the NIT semifinals Tuesday, and we have a free NCAA basketball pick for the Penn State-Mississippi State battle.

No. 4 Penn State (23-14 SU, 19-13-1 ATS) vs. No. 4 Mississippi St. (25-11 SU, 16-14-1 ATS)Free NCAAB Pick: Over 134½Best Line Offered: Heritage

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The previous two trips to New York City this season for Penn State didn’t result in the Nittany Lions returning to Happy Valley with any hardware to show for their efforts. Will a third Big Apple visit for Pat Chambers and his crew prove more fruitful?

Penn State and its fans certainly hope so as the Nittany Lions prepare for an NIT semifinal matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The second contest on Tuesday night’s college basketball odds board, the two States are slated to get underway about 30 minutes after Western Kentucky and Utah wrap up their contest to begin the evening. Penn State is a unanimous 2½-point favorite for the twin 4-seed matchup with 134½-135 currently the scoreboard target.

Bulldogs & Lions Both Beat No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds To Reach NYC

The Nittany Lions were at Madison Square Garden three weeks ago for the Big Ten Tournament, beating Northwestern and Ohio State before falling to Purdue in the semifinals. They were also in New York early on the schedule for the Progressive Classic at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center where the Lions lost the championship game to Texas A&M, 98-87. Chambers’ squad opened the NIT at home with a rather ho-hum win over Temple, then scored impressive victories at No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 2 Marquette. The Nittany Lions were without guard Nazeer Bostick in the latest two games, but the sophomore is expected back for this battle after serving a short suspension for violation of team rules.

Ben Howland’s third year at Starkville finally resulted in a postseason tournament. The Bulldogs got off to a 12-1 start against a rather weak non-con slate before going 9-9 in the SEC regular season and reaching the quarterfinals of the conference tourney. Mississippi State started the NIT with a nice win over Nebraska, squeaked past No. 1 Baylor in Waco and then soundly beat No. 2 Louisville on the road, 79-56, in a game Bookmaker closed the Bulldogs on a +6 line. The win over the Cardinals was their 4th straight cover and fifth ‘under’ in the last seven games.

’Under’ 4-2 In Teams’ NIT Games

This will be only the second time the Nittany Lions and Bulldogs have met on the hardwood, the first resulting in a 58-57 Mississippi State win at El Paso in December 1997. Both teams leaned slightly to the ‘under’ prior to the NIT, and totals have run 2-4 O/U in tournament action.

My free college basketball pick will disregard the trends that favor the low side of the total, and instead be on the ‘over.’

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