Penn State at Nebraska -4.5 O/U 141
Teams in this contest are on even footing from an overall talent standpoint but willing to take a stance with the home team Huskers tonight for a pair of reasons. Penn State has risen up the Big Ten power ratings ladder over the last couple of games registering an upset home win over Maryland followed an 83-70 win at Illinois on Saturday. However, their current 3-2 SU/ATS stretch could be more a product of a weak schedule rather than massive improvement. A close look shows four of the five recent Nittany Lions games have been against teams in the Big Ten’s bottom five. Maryland is the only team during this span with a record above .500 in league play. Contrary to that, Nebraska enters off of a difficult five game schedule where they faced four teams above .500 in conference action. Included in those contests are a home win over second place Purdue and a 70-69 OT loss at league kingpin Wisconsin. Tonight they get a very young Penn State team inside a sold out Pinnacle Bank Arena so figure Nebraska to play with extreme energy.
Fundamentally, the Cornhuskers received a huge boost this past Saturday when leading rebounder Ed Morrow Jr. returned to the lineup and grabbed 13 boards. His presence gives Nebraska a size advantage inside against Penn State tonight which could be significant. Aside from top rebounder 6’9” freshman Mike Watkins, PSU looks to their frosh swingman Lamar Stevens and their guards to rebound. Nebraska will counter with Morrow, Forward Michael Jacobsen (6’9” 230) & 6’11” freshman reserve Jordy Tshimanga. Nebraska’s backcourt is more than capable of negating and even outplaying Penn State’s very talented guards so the paint could be the deciding factor.
The price here is more than what my power ratings indicate it should be but the situation and matchups are favorable enough to overcome that. Last year in this building, Nebraska whacked Penn State 70-54 and can’t say that these teams are all that different strength wise than those were. Look for the Huskers to be fueled up for this one after that tough one-point loss in Madison. Like the setup here for a Nebraska win and cover.