On a big Monday college basketball slate, one of the most exciting games of the night features a sleeper out of the Big East in Butler heading to Happy Valley to take on the 2-0 Penn State Nittany Lions. We’ll break down this entertaining match-up along with a pick for the action as well.
Penn State comes into tonight’s game scoring at an incredibly high level through the first two games of the season. The Nittany Lions are tied for first in the country in effective field goal percentage at 70.9% and are averaging 91.5 points a game. Senior Jalen Pickett has been leading this offensive attack averaging 14 points and 8 assists a game.
Camren Wynter and Andrew Funk both transferred into the program this offseason and they have provided an immediate spark to this Penn State team. Wynter is leading the team in steals while Funk is shooting 46.7% from three on an average of 7.5 attempts a game.
Despite the two blowout wins the Nittany Lions' defense has not been impressive as they have struggled to create turnovers and have allowed an average of 36 points to be scored in the second half of both games which has them ranked 146th in that category.
The Butler Bulldogs have only played one game this season which was an 89-56 blowout over New Orleans. Center Manny Bates scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds in a dominant first performance of the season. Guards Chuck Harris and Simas Lukosius were also highly effective in the opener as Harris scored 17 points and Lukosius has 5 assists.
Butler’s defense was impressive against New Orleans however this Penn State offensive will be much more of a challenge for the Bulldogs. The same goes for the Nittany Lions as this Butler offense will be the first real test they have this season.
Penn State opened as a -9.5 point favorite in the bigger sportsbooks but this number has seen big movement and the Nittany Lions are now only favored by -5.5 across the board. The teams are a combined 3-0 ATS up to this point.
The point total in this game opened at around 139 to 139.5 but has been bet up to 144 where it stands now in most shops. The over for these two teams is 2-0-1 so far this season with both Penn State games going over the point total by 15.5 points or more.
As far as trends go the Butler Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games dating back to last season. Penn State is 12-1 ATS in their last 13 games including this season and last. Both teams are a combined 10-0 ATS when they play an opponent with a win percentage above .600.
Due to the strength of both teams' opponents this season it’s hard to get a read on them and the spread for this one. It’s clear from the movement that people think Penn State’s start is due to lackluster opponents. With that being said my play for this game is the over of 144.
I think Penn State’s defense is going to struggle in their first true test of the season and Butler will be able to score pretty easily tonight. The Nittany Lions' offense is clearly strong so if their shooting numbers remain solid tonight this game should be a high-scoring affair.