NCAA Basketball Pick: Penn State +13½ over Iowa Hawkeyes

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Penn State may be winless in the Big Ten, but Iowa State does not shoot the ball well enough to be favored by this much and the Hawkeyes do not expect to get many second chances.

Poor shooting may plague the big home favorite Thursday night when the Penn State Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-3 away) pay a visit to the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-7, 10-2 home) at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, IA at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Penn State as a huge underdog for this contest with the current line at +13½ with odds of -105.

Iowa has quietly snuck up the Pomeroy Ratings after beginning the year ranked 53rd, peaking at 28th before a road date with the Ohio State Buckeyes two games ago.

Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes lost that contest and then lost their second straight game to Purdue in overtime, and they are now down to 36th on Pomeroy. Despite that still rather lofty ranking, Iowa is not a good shooting team, which make it extremely difficult to give this many points.

After all, the Hawkeyes are ranked only 188th in effective field goal percentage, which has hurt them in narrow conference losses to Michigan State and Indiana both here at home, and they do not shoot three-pointers well at all at 30.3 percent to rank  293rd in that department.

Iowa grades out much better on the defensive end, where it is 26th in defensive efficiency, but one thing that the Hawkeyes do not do much of is force turnovers, doing so a below average 19.7 percent of the time.

That lack of pressure should allow a Penn State offense that ranks 238th in tempo rating with just 64.9 possessions per game to milk the clock and shorten this game, making it even harder for Iowa to cover such a big spread.

Now Penn State had a nice start to this season going 8-4 in non-conference play, but unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, then came the beginning of the Big Ten Conference season! Penn State has gone 0-8 in conference play, ranking 12th in the conference in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency during Big Ten games only. So how can the Nittany Lions possibly stay within single-digits here?

Well, as mentioned, one way is by taking the shot clock down on every possession, which seems doable given Iowa’s lack of turnovers forced. Also, one thing that Penn Stat does do well is crash the boards, in fact ranking an impressive fourth in the entire country in defensive rebounding percentage.

That means that Iowa does not figure to get many second chance opportunities, meaning that the Hawkeyes will probably need to shoot a very high percentage in order to run up this score, which is something they have not done much all year. With this in mind, take the big points with Penn State on Thursday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Penn State +13½ (-105)

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