Ohio State, Murray State Will Light Up Inexperienced Foes Thursday

Jay Pryce

Thursday, January 25, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

Young squads plus road atmospheres equals poor defending. That’s the equation Thursday night when Penn State takes on No. 13 Ohio State, and Morehead State clashes with Murray State. What’s the best bet in each? 

Penn State at No. 13 Ohio State (-9.5)

The season is beginning to take its toll on the young Penn State (13-8 SU, 7-9 ATS) squad, which fields four underclassmen in the starting lineup. It is 3-5 SU and 1-6 ATS in its last eight games, the defense slowly unraveling. The pressures associated with playing away from home are most troublesome. Head coach Pat Chambers’ men allow 78.9 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting in seven true road contests, as opposed to 63.9 and 39.8 in Happy Valley.

Offense is what will keep the Nittany Lions competitive here. Their current 76.9 points-per-game average is the highest at this point in the season since Chambers’ first year in charge (2011-12). Five players put up double digits a night, with sophomore guard Tony Carr (18.9 ppg) and second-year forward Lamar Stevens (15.6 ppg) leading the way. The team is at its best in the paint, owning a 64.0 field goal percentage on shots in the area.

First-year head coach Chris Holtmann has Ohio State (18-4 SU, 11-9 ATS) rolling. The former Butler leader is the first Big Ten coach in 94 years to win his first nine games in conference play. Don’t expect a loss here. The Buckeyes are No. 1 nationally for the most home wins since the 2009-10 season, going 146-23 (86.4 percent) overall.

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Ohio State stays undefeated in Big Ten play defeating Nebraska 64-59. Keita Bates-Diop led OSU with 20 points and 6 boards. The Buckeyes are now 18-4. pic.twitter.com/I4jYrXIkbG

— Tino Bovenzi (@TinoBovenzi) January 23, 2018

Keita Bates-Diop is going to be an NBA star, one of 14 players recognized this week on the Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List. The 6-foot-7 junior forward averages 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Bates-Diop has helped make bettors rich in this spot. Ohio State is 18-3 SU and 15-6 ATS when he suits up in a Big Ten contest at Value City Arena.

Penn State is 1-17 SU and 7-11 ATS on the road against ranked opponents in Chambers’ tenure, averaging a paltry 57.6 points per game on 38.8 percent shooting. Look for the team to get in the low 60s here, but slowing down the Buckeyes will be a chore. Ohio State is posting 81.2 points per game at home against unranked opponents for those listed on the NCAAB oddsboard, hitting a searing 50.5 percent from the floor. Buckeyes win 76-63 and cover a 9.5-point spread. Pick accordingly.

Free NCAAB Pick: OSU -9.5Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Morehead State at Murray State (-17)

Morehead State (6-13 SU, 8-6 ATS) and Murray State (14-5 SU, 10-6 ATS) clash in a rare nationally televised event (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET) Thursday. Look for the Racers, currently 17-point favorites, to light it up in primetime. Favorites to challenge Belmont for the Ohio Valley crown, Murray State is ranked 34th in the country in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency. It posts 80.5 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are 2-6 SU and 6-2 ATS since starting league play, covering a 3.3 average line by 2.8 points per game. Morehead State has played the 15th toughest non-conference schedule in D-I hoops, losing blowouts to Xavier (101-49), Virginia Tech (96-63), and Butler (85-69). The team is young and inexperienced, returning just 17 points per game from last season and with 10 new faces.

In the last calendar year, the Racers have scored 80 points or more in seven of 10 hosting Ohio Valley visitors to CFSB Center. The average combined score is 153.7 points. The Eagles aren’t going to fly too high, but are good for 60-plus. I have it 80-66 for the Racers with the final tally easily surpassing a 139.5 game total. Pick ‘over’ for your best bet.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 139Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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