Ohio State’s Duane Washington Jr. (4) plays against Minnesota in an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
- Ohio State (8-3) plays host to Penn State (34) on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 6:30 pm ET
- The Buckeyes are unbeaten at home (6-0), but have a much shakier record against the spread
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
Ohio State will put its home court advantage to the test on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 pm ET, when Penn State comes to town in search of snapping out of a funk.
The Buckeyes, who’ve won all six of their home games this year, are 5.5-point favorites on the current odds, as shown below. The Nittany Lions are 1-2 on the road so far, and they have plenty to prove in this matchup.
Penn State vs Ohio State Odds
|Penn State||+200||+5.5 (-110)||Over 144.5 (-110)|
|Ohio State||-245||-5.5 (-110)||Under 144.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan. 5th, 2020.
How They’ve Fared So Far
The respect that is earned by playing in the difficult Big Ten is on Penn State’s side right now, as the Nittany Lions remain a top-50 team on KenPom despite having lost four of their past five games (for context, unbeaten Winthrop has yet to crack the top 100).
But it’s about time for Penn State to show something, right? The Nittany Lions went on a 12-2 run at the end of their last game to force overtime against Indiana (23rd in KenPom), but they lost by two. Before that, it was a 17-point home loss to Illinois (7th) and a four-point road loss to Michigan (10th).
Penn State’s “worst” loss was by six points to Seton Hall, who is 35th in KenPom. So, really good. The schedule never gets easier for the Nittany Lions, though, and pretty soon they need to turn these tight losses into victories.
Ohio State has two wins that are more impressive than anything Penn State has done yet, defeating UCLA (34th) and Rutgers (19th). But the Buckeyes are coming off a pretty eye-opening loss to Minnesota, 77-60, which happened Sunday.
In that game, Ohio State matched its lowest scoring output on the season. The Buckeyes are one of the best free throw teams in the country (76.8 percent, 26th in NCAA Division I), but they are otherwise mediocre in the offensive half-court (49.6 effective shooting percentage, 180th in D-I).
2021 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Odds Tracker
Neither team is exactly strong or weak against the spread so far this year, as Penn State is 4-3 ATS and Ohio State is 5-5-1.
Lately, though, Penn State has covered in three of its past four. The Nittany Lions were underdogs in all of those games. As a road team, they are 1-4 ATS.
Catch every bucket from Myreon Jones’ (@MyreonJones21) & Izaiah Brockington’s (@TheOnlyiZB) team-leading 2️⃣1️⃣-point performances vs No. 18 Illinois 🎥 pic.twitter.com/nI27fMGJ4g
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) December 24, 2020
The Buckeyes whiffed as 1.5-point underdogs (losing instead by 17) in their most recent game, but they went 3-1-1 in the five matchups before that. As favorites, the Buckeyes are 4-4 ATS. As the home team, they are 4-2 ATS (and, as a reminder, 6-0 straight up).
These teams have played three times in the previous two seasons, including twice last year, and it’s difficult to tell who has the edge. Ohio State has won two of three straight up, while Penn State has taken two of three ATS.
Last year, they split their pair of games, each earning a straight up win and an ATS win. Penn State has more returnees from those games, but not by a substantial margin.
18 PTS on 6/9 from beyond the arc for @ahrensjustin12 😌👌#Team122 #GoBuckeyes pic.twitter.com/5ujpj9sjJU
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) January 1, 2021
The truly noticeable factor, then, is Ohio State’s presence as a home body. The Buckeyes have a strong home record straight up and against the spread — while Penn State’s road ATS record needs work. We’ll roll with the Buckeyes at -5.5, but feel encouraged to at least take them on the moneyline if you’re less convinced.
Pick: Ohio State -5.5 (-110)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.