Rising Penn State to Devour George Mason

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Rainman M.

Sunday, December 17, 2017 2:58 PM GMT

Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 2:58 PM GMT

George Mason (5-6) hosts Penn State (8-3) today at 4 PM ET. The visiting Nittany Lions are favored by 11.5 points. Penn State returns all 5 starters from last year. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Penn State -11.5
Best Line Offered: Heritage
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Point guard Tony Carr is a more well-rounded playmaker. He continues to lead the team with over 4 assists per game, but is turning the ball over much less frequently. He is drawing more fouls and is averaging 85% free throws. He ranks 20th with 55.3% three-point completion. Carr leads the team with 20 points per game.

The key to Penn State's improvement this season is its frontcourt. Small forward Josh Reaves is crucial on both sides of the ball. He completes 63.6% from two and ranks 307th in block % and 24th in steal %.

Power forward Lamar Stevens is improving his consistency. During conference play, he would rotate between low- and high-scoring games, until from February 7th until the end of the season he scored over 10 in every game but 1. He is second on the team with 13.7 points per game. He'll be even scarier when he finds his stroke from three. He has the size to dominate the post but also the ability to make threes.

Center Mike Watkins leads Penn State's effort to become more physical. He ranks 10th nationally in block %, including a 7-block performance against Wisconsin. He completes 68.3% from two and leads the team with 8 rebounds per game.

George Mason maintains its preference for a small lineup, ranking 303rd in average height.

Point guard Otis Livingston accumulates the most minutes for George Mason. He leads the team with 4.5 assists per game and doesn't commit many turnovers. He is the team's only player with over 40% completion from three.

Power forward Jaire Grayer is repeating last season's slow start from behind the arc. He didn't get hot until conference play. But he is George Mason's top rebounder, averaging 8.3 per game.

Center Goanar Mar is George Mason's other most reliable post player. He is effective at drawing fouls and averages 83% free throw completion. He completes 60% from two.

The Verdict

Despite being on the road, Penn State can establish its style of play. They love an up-tempo transition game which they achieve by forcing turnovers and achieving blocks and steals. They rank 24th in forcing turnovers, 15th in achieving blocks and 6th in steals. Conversely, George Mason ranks outside the top 150 in allowing turnovers, blocks, and steals. George Mason has one of the worst half-court offenses and will struggle to establish itself against a cohesive Penn State defense that is benefiting from playing together. Last season, Penn State had 2 players with 1+ steal per game, this season, they have 6. Last season, they surrendered 90 points in a loss at Iowa, this season Iowa only scored 73 against them in a home defeat. Penn State is giving up fewer points and playing better defense. They are also allowing fewer second-chance points while accruing more for themselves on offense. They have jumped over 100 ranks in both defensive and offensive rebounding % from last season.

Penn State is too tough for George Mason in the interior. They can control the glass and otherwise score more effectively in large part due to the transition game facilitated by their stout half-court defense. The Nittany Lions are also in an awesome betting situation on our NCAAB Picks: They are 4-0 ATS as favorites of 9 or more points, 0-3-1 ATS when favored by less than 9 or when underdogs. Expect them to maintain dominance over George Mason.

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