Penn State ATS is the NCAA Basketball Pick at Minnesota

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, March 8, 2015 2:34 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Sunday.

 

On the final day of the regular season Sunday, there could be a much closer game than the point spread indicates in a Big Ten contest as the Penn State Nittany Lions (15-15, 2-8 away) pay a visit to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-13, 13-4 home) at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, MN at 1:00 ET in a game televised nationally on Big Ten Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Penn State as a decided road underdog for this contest with the current line at +8½ with odds of -102.


Minnesota Now Off of Tournament Bubble
Minnesota was an NCAA Tournament bubble team not too long ago, but they have now played themselves out of contention for the Big Dance barring a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament by losing four of their last five games. They could have gotten back on the bubble with a home win over Wisconsin Thursday, but instead they fell to the Badgers by 13 points 76-63 here at Williams Arena, so that may leave them a bit despondent today.

Penn State was once sitting a 15-9 for this season, but the Nittany Lions have now been the losing NCAA Basketball picks in six straight games to fall to 15-15 as well as 3-14 in Big Ten play. Still, the Lions could be motivated as a win here would mean they finish the regular season over .500 overall, and because they play in one of the best conferences in the country, that could be good enough to net them a CIT or CBI berth.


Penn State Pesky During Losing Streak
Besides, Penn State has actually played well during the six-game losing streak as it has been a thorn in the side of some of the better teams in the nation. During this losing streak, the Nittany Lions lost by three points to Maryland, four points to Iowa, eight points to Wisconsin and most recently by 10 points to Ohio State. The lowest ranked team out of those four on the Pomeroy Ratings right now is Maryland at number 31, with the other three all in the Top 20!

This assignment seems easier for Penn State with Minnesota ranked 54th, so even playing on the road, this could be a good chance to snap the losing streak and earn a minor tournament bid. And even if the Nittany Lions do not finish off the job on the court, they should bring their best effort and at least take this game down to the wire, making these 8½ points look quite attractive.


Lack of Second Opportunities to Hurt Gophers
And one key area that should keep Penn State in the game or produce an upset is an expected rebounding edge for the Nittany Lions. Granted Minnesota can score as it is ranked 39th in the country with its 74.0 points per game, but part of that is a function of the Gophers’ quick pace as they rank 53rd in the country in adjusted tempo rating.

Minnesota would probably need to shoot a very high percentage on its initial shots here to cover a relatively large spread like this because the Golden Gophers do not figure to get many second chances. That is because rebounding has been an issue for Minnesota al year as it is 205th in the land in offensive rebounding percentage, and it figures to get almost nothing in that regard here with Penn State being a good defensive rebounding team.

The Nittany Lions allow teams to rebound their own misses only 29.6 percent of the time, which is safely below the national average of 31.1 percent. Moreover the news is not any better for Minnesota on the opposite end where it is a dismal 270th in defensive rebounding percentage allowing second chances an alarming 33.1 percent of the time.


Nittany Lions Won First Meeting
Finally, let us not forget that Penn State beat Minnesota 63-58 in the first meeting between these teams at Happy Valley January 28th, and as you might expect a key for the Nittany Lions there was winning the rebounding battle 36-28.

Look for that rebounding to at the very least keep Penn State close here if not lead to a season sweep when the Nittany Lions visit Minnesota on Sunday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Penn State +8½ (-102)