Penn State Nittany Lions at (23) Ohio State Buckeyes (-12, 132 o/u)
Before Ohio State (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten) can turn its attention to this weekend’s game with rival Michigan State, the Buckeyes will host the Penn State Nittany Lions (15-9, 3-8 Big Ten) tonight at Value City Arena (7:00 p.m. Eastern).
Ohio State has won four of its last five games and are currently tied for second in the Big Ten (with four other teams). Their last outing was a comfortable 79-60 win over Rutgers on Sunday, in which freshman D’Angelo Russell piled up 23 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes.
“It was honestly one of the better performances I’ve seen in all my time in coaching,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. “He always has purpose to what he’s doing. He’s specific with what he’s doing, so when he does it in a game it’s like, yeah, I just saw him do that yesterday for five minutes, and that’s what great players do.”
That game was just the latest sensational performance by the first-year phenom. Russell, a 6’5″ guard, is leading the Buckeyes in both scoring and rebounds, averaging over 19 points and five boards per game.
Tonight, Russell and company will be facing a Penn State team that is struggling to find success in the powerhouse Big Ten. The Nittanies went 12-1 to start the year, racking up wins over lesser non-conference opponents. But they lost their first six in Big Ten Play to put themselves firmly behind the eight-ball.
The team has responded since, winning three of its last five, including a 56-43 victory over Nebraska last time out. But all three of those wins came at home. Penn State has yet to win on the road in Big Ten play (0-6).
When asked about facing Russell tonight, Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers said, “What I’ve seen, he plays well beyond his freshman status. He does whatever the team needs for them to win.”
The Buckeyes are 12-point favorites for tonight’s game.
Looking at the trends, Penn State is 1-12 SU in its last 13 games on the road against Ohio State. However, the kept six of their seven road losses to single digits this year. The only double-digit loss came in their first conference game of the year, when they were downed 89-72 by then-No. 5 Wisconsin.
With Penn State playing better of late and tending to hang tough on the road, the Nittanies and the points (+12) looks like the better play.
(Photo credit: Ben Stanfield (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)