The No. 16 Michigan State Spartans will host the No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday night just three days after falling to Wisconsin on the road. The Spartans fell to 8-3 in conference play with Saturday’s 64-63 setback to a Badgers team that was missing Brad Davison (suspension) and Kobe King (transfer). The Spartans fell behind 40-21 in the first half before storming all the way back but ultimately falling short.
The Spartans are now 16-6 on the season and find themselves tied with Illinois for first place in the Big Ten. The Maryland Terrapins are just a game back in the win column.
The Nittany Lions enter the game on a four-game winning streak, which includes two road conference games, one against Nebraska and the other against Michigan. Coach Pat Chambers has seemingly righted the ship after Penn State lost three consecutive Big Ten games in the first two weeks of January.
The Lions are led by 6-8 senior forward Lamar Stevens, who is averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.
Penn State sits at 16-5 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten and is within striking distance of first place in the conference, so obviously, this game would be a huge step in that direction.
Michigan State is a nine-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 144.5.
Looking To Move Up
The Nittany Lions have been good against the spread on the season, going 12-8-1, including 3-3 in true road games ATS. The stat that jumps off of the page is that Penn State is 1-9 in its last 10 matchups with the Spartans.
The Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last five games and have gone under in five of their last seven games.
Still A Lot To Prove
This season has not gone according to plan for the Spartans at 16-6, but they are still one of the best 10 teams in the nation. Michigan State is 10-1 at home this season straight up and a sparkling 9-2 against the spread in the Breslin Center.
On the season, the Spartans are 11-11 against the spread. At home, they have gone over the total in six of their 11 home games. The Spartans are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games overall and have gone under in six of their last seven.
Which Team Will Step Forward?
The Nittany Lions are certainly talented enough to pull this game out on the road, but their best player will also have the toughest matchup on the floor. Xavier Tillman is one of the best defensive big men in the Big Ten and has given opponents fits all season long while also making them work on the defensive end. Either Mike Watkins or Myreon Jones (or both) will need to have big games for Penn State.
On the road, in the Breslin Center, with these matchups, I am not sure I am comfortable with the Lions keeping it close. Expect Cassius Winston and Rocket Watts to make some triples and stretch this out. Michigan State covers the spread, but play the under.