Penn State guard Izaiah Brockington (12) scores against Maryland during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in State College, Pa., on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. Penn State upset Maryland 76-69. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
- Nittany Lions take 0-3 record in conference play into Sunday afternoon date with No. 6 Wisconsin
- Badgers coming off dominant home win over Minnesota, but have struggled to consistently reward sports bettors on the road
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends ahead of Sunday’s clash at Bryce Jordan Center
The Penn State Nittany Lions will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they return home on Sunday to face the Wisconsin Badgers as 4.5-point underdogs. Penn State is coming off a narrow 87-85 loss in Indiana on Wednesday to remain winless in conference play. Conversely, the Badgers are coming off a dominating 71-59 win over Minnesota on New Year’s Eve that has further solidified their position among the top 10 in the national rankings.
Here’s a look at the odds and trends ahead of this Sunday afternoon Big Ten conference clash at Bryce Jordan Center.
Wisconsin Badgers vs Penn State Nittany Lions Odds
|Wisconsin Badgers||-4.5 (-104)||-190||O 139.5 (-110)|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||+4.5 (-118)||+160||U 139.5 (-110)|
*Odds taken at FanDuel on 01/02/2021.
Nittany Lions Winless In Conference Action
The Nittany Lions enter 2021 looking for answers after opening their conference schedule with three straight outright losses. In addition to last week’s loss in Indiana, Penn State has also come up short in recent dates with Michigan and No. 18 Illinois to fall to 1-4 in their past five outings.
Michigan basketball goes into the new year undefeated and at the top of the Big Ten. What’s that green thing at the bottom of the #B1G standings? 🤔 #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/qGSY79MzlW
— Chad Erwin (@ErwinChad) January 1, 2021
Despite those struggles, the Nittany Lions have produced respectable results at the sportsbooks, covering in three of their past four outings, including a stunning 75-55 upset of No. 15 Virginia Tech as 5.5-point road underdogs on December 8. And while things did not go so well for the squad in a 98-81 loss to No. 18 Illinois just before Christmas, Penn State has held its own in dates with nationally ranked opponents, going 5-3 since mid-December 2019, including a 3-2 run on home hardwood.
PSU Defense A Concern
However, the Nittany Lions have plenty of work to do to recapture the defensive touch that lifted them to season-opening wins over VMI and VCU. The squad limited opponents to just 67 points per game during that fast start, but have allowed 87 or more points on three occasions during their current 1-4 run to fall to 76th in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom.
#RT @PennStateMBB: Catch every bucket from Myreon Jones’ (@MyreonJones21) & Izaiah Brockington’s (@TheOnlyiZB) team-leading 2️⃣1️⃣-point performances vs No. 18 Illinois 🎥 pic.twitter.com/BRq6aAlH0V
— Rose Pietrzak Carter (@RoseCarter) December 25, 2020
Penn State must find a way to turn things around quickly as they begin a difficult seven-game stretch that features matchups with teams currently ranked among the AP Top 25. The Nittany Lions failed top capitalize on an early double-digit lead in their recent loss to the Fighting Illini, but it was slow starts that doomed them to defeat in their losses to the Hoosiers and Wolverines. The team could also benefit from a boost in secondary scoring to complement the efforts of junior guards Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones. The duo has tallied a combined 38.5 points over the past two games, and are the only Penn State starters to crack double digits in scoring over the past four games.
Badgers Start Fast, But Shaky Road Bet
The Badgers arrive at Bryce Jordan center riding high after claiming their third victory in as many outings against nationally ranked opponents. Wisconsin led wire-to-wire in Thursday’s win over the Golden Gophers as 8.5-point home chalk, lifting the club to No. 6 in the AP Top 25.
Very impressive bounce-back win for Wisconsin as they defeat Minnesota, 71-59. Much better defensive effort holding the Gophers to 31% shooting and just 18 points in the paint#Badgers are now 3-1 in the Big Ten and look to start a new winning streak Sunday at Penn State
— Mitchell Speltz (@MitchellSpeltz) December 31, 2020
Overall, the Badgers sport a 9-2 record on the season, including a 3-1 mark in conference play, but have produced mixed results at the sportsbooks, going 6-5 ATS. Wisconsin has also been streaky on the road since the beginning of last season, going 7-7 SU and 7-6-1 ATS, and are also a middling 4-4, both SU and ATS in their past eight road contests while favored by four or fewer points.
Wisconsin Owns Nittany Lions
However, the Badgers have been simply dominant when facing Penn State in recent years, racking up a 26-2 record in 28 overall meetings since 2003. That run includes wins in each of their past eight road dates with the Nittany Lions, with the total finishing UNDER in seven of those outings. With the Badgers finding their groove, and Penn State struggling to contain opposing shooters, look for Wisconsin to extend their recent dominance in Sunday’s contest.
The Picks: Wisconsin -4.5 (-104); OVER 139.5 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.