Ranked Ohio State, Purdue Feature in Pair of Big Ten Tourney Picks Friday

Jay Pryce

Friday, March 2, 2018 1:16 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 2, 2018 1:16 PM UTC

No. 13 Ohio State clashes with Penn State, while red-hot Rutgers (some sarcasm) tackles No. 8 Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten men’s basketball championship Friday at Madison Square Garden.

No. 13 Ohio State vs. Penn State

Penn State (20-12 SU, 15-12 ATS) is just 4-16 SU in its last 20 meetings with Ohio State (24-7 SU, 15-14 ATS). The Nittany Lions swept both games in 2013 and again this season (82-79, 79-56). Lights out 3-point shooting fueled both victories this year. Head coach Pat Chambers’ men were 20 of 34 from behind the arc. One has to like their chances from deep in this encounter, but concerns over the frontcourt may hamper a third straight win.

The Nittany Lions will miss starting forward Mike Watkins for a second game in a row due to an injured right knee. A member of the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team, the 6-foot-9 sophomore is the team leader in rebounds (8.9 rpg) and blocks (2.3 bpg). Watkins racked up 18 points, 15 boards, and a pair of swatted shots in 57 minutes in the wins over the Buckeyes.

The issue for Chambers is two-fold. One, Watkins is the key piece to a frontcourt allowing a paltry 54.8 percent opponent field-goal rate on shots at the rim. This ranks 33rd best nationally. Ohio State only takes 29.9 percent of shots from the area, but NCAA basketball bettors can expect a greater attack down low Friday. Second, Chambers has few bodies to matchup with Ohio State big man Kaleb Wesson. The 270-pound force posts 11.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The Buckeyes are 10-0 SU and 7-3 ATS in B1G play when Wesson combines for more than 13 overall.

Ohio State’s weakness is its starting guards C.J Jackson (12.4 ppg) and Andrew Dakich (3.0 ppg). The duo lacks the athleticism and skill level to hang with most backcourts in the conference, Penn State included. Nittany Lions star Tony Carr dropped 28 and 30 points in the prior meetings. Expect another 3-point barrage and points-filled performance this time around. It will not be enough, however, to match the Buckeyes' advantage in the paint. Ohio State is primed and ready for its championship debut:

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We’ve arrived. ⚪️🔴

📍 New York, NY. 🌃 pic.twitter.com/JO8TijYvEg

— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) March 2, 2018

Buckeyes win 79-71. Look for a game total in the low 140s. It closed at 139.5 and 138 in the previous meetings. Pick ‘over’ for the best bet.

Free NCAAB Pick: OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Rutgers vs. No. 8 Purdue

Rutgers (15-16 SU, 13-12 ATS) is thriving in the Big Ten tourney behind an almost-home court advantage at Madison Square Garden, topping Minnesota 64-54 in the opening round and upsetting Indiana 76-69 on Thursday. Can it keep momentum and shock favorites Purdue (26-5 SU, 15-14 ATS)? The Scarlet Knights nearly pulled off a miracle in early February when the then-No. 3 Boilermakers escaped New Jersey with a 78-76 win. Rutgers, which shot 48.4 percent overall in the near upset, played without starting guard Mike Williams due to injury. The 6-foot-2 senior is available this time around.

To pull off a stunner, Rutgers will have to have an offensive night for the ages. Purdue puts up 82.7 points per game on 50.9 percent shooting against the B1G’s bottom five this year. Rutgers finished last in the conference with a 3-15 SU record. Success from the 3-point area is off the charts. The Boilermakers average 44.9 percent from long range in this situation.

The Scarlet Knights average 60.0 points per game against teams with an RPI under 50. This will be enough to help push the final score ‘over’ the total as the Boilermakers coast to 80 points. Expect the number to open in the low-to-mid 130s as both play at below-average tempos (Purdue, 215; Rutgers 276) and own top-tier defenses. The talent mismatch is too great to slow the hyper-efficient Boilermakers, however.

Free NCAAB Pick: OverBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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