It has been a less-than-ideal season for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and they will be looking to get back in the win column tonight as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting a moneyline bet in this one.
Penn State currently sits in 11th place in the Big-10 standings with a 7-9 record, but they will enter tonight on a two-game win streak. The offensive ability of this team stacks up with the best in the league, as they rank 16th in the country in offensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom. Still, their defense has been a different story and a big part of why they lost four straight games at the start of the month.
Their most recent win over Minnesota marked the first time since January 29th that the Nittany Lions held an opponent to 69 points or less. Penn State has not done a good job of making teams uncomfortable and forcing turnovers this season, as they rank 356th in the country in opponent turnovers per game and 331st in steals per game.
If the Nittany Lions were more consistent on the defensive end, they would likely be much higher up in the conference standings, especially with Jalen Pickett leading the offense. Pickett has had 41 and 32 points in back-to-back games and has the opportunity for another big game tonight against an Ohio State defense that ranks 114th in defensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom.
The Buckeyes are currently amid an eight-game losing streak and most recently lost to Purdue by 27 points. Over the past three games, Ohio State has been unable to consistently rebound on either end of the floor, as they have been outrebounded in all three games.
Much like the Nittany Lions, the offensive ability is present for the Buckeyes. Even with their 3-13 conference record, they still rank 28th in the country in offensive efficiency on KenPom, with freshman Brice Sensabaugh leading the way with an average of 16.5 points per game.
Ohio State is 1-9 over their last ten games and is 11-16 on the season, while Penn State is 16-11; however, the Buckeyes are currently favored by -2.5 points. With that being said, I’ll be taking Ohio State on the moneyline at (-130). This is one of those games where the line surprises you based on pure records, but Ohio State is 10-6 straight up when favored this season and 8-5 at home.
Penn State has not been a good team on the road this season, as they will come into tonight with a 2-7 straight-up road record. Despite the records being in polar opposite points, Ohio State has very similar numbers to the Nittany Lions, and there is only a difference of 1.69 when it comes to the team's adjusted efficiency margins on KenPom.
Both teams have solid three-point shooting percentages; however, Ohio State has proven to be a much better team when it comes to limiting the three. The Buckeyes have held opponents to an average shooting percentage of 31.6%, which ranks 57th in the country. This could pose many problems for a Penn State team that’s ranked 8th in three-point attempts per game. It may be a back-and-forth game, but ultimately I trust the Buckeyes to pull it out at home.
Ohio State (-130)