Penn State (24-13) vs Mississippi State (25-11)
When: Tuesday, March 27th 2018
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Time: 9:30 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Penn State -2/135
The Penn State Nittany Lions are no strangers to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and will try and for their second title in the last nine years, but have to get by the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the semifinals first. Both teams come in as No. 4 seeds after just missing out on the NCAA Tournament, but thankful to still be playing basketball and hope to carry some of that momentum and experience into next year’s campaign. Nearly all of Mississippi State’s rotation figures to be back next season, including Quinndary Weatherspoon, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 79-56 win over Louisville in the quarterfinals last Tuesday. The Bulldogs also knocked off Nebraska and Baylor en route to Madison Square Garden. The Nittany Lions also hope to return the bulk of their team next season and two sophomores – Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr – combined for 55 points in the 85-80 win at Marquette in the quarterfinals. After opening the NIT with a home win over Temple, the Nittany Lions went on the road to beat Notre Dame and the Golden Eagles of Marquette. The latest victory pushed Penn State, which won the NIT in its last appearance in 2009, to the semifinals of the event for the sixth time since 1990. The teams have met only once – 1997 in El Paso, Texas – and the winner will get either Western Kentucky or Utah in the championship game on Thursday.
Senior Shep Garner hopes to play one more game after this one at Madison Square Garden, where he has played five times and averaged 20.2 points, including a career-high 33 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals earlier this month against Purdue. Garner had 19 points in the win over Marquette and he has made 24-of-47 from 3-point range since the beginning of March. Carr is averaging 24.5 points while making 21-of-26 free throws over the last two games.
The Bulldogs were in some tight games before holding Louisville to 35% shooting last week. Their previous four games had been decided by an average of 3.5 points and they controlled the boards against the Cardinals as well, outrebounding them 42-32. Aric Holman added 16 points and eight rebounds and he is averaging 15 points and 8.7 boards in the NIT. Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s younger brother, made 6-of-9 shots against the Cardinals and is 18-of-29 from the floor over his last four games.
These two teams were probably under-seeded for this tournament and will probably make the Big Dance next season. The difference in this one will be Penn State’s ability to hit the three-pointer. They rank near the top of the nation in that category, while the Bulldogs are near the bottom.
Pick: Penn State -2.5
- Nittany Lions are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Nittany Lions are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Nittany Lions are 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 neutral site games.
- Nittany Lions are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS win.
- Nittany Lions are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Nittany Lions are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games.
- Nittany Lions are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Tuesday games.
- Nittany Lions are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Southeastern.
- Bulldogs are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Bulldogs are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS win.
- Bulldogs are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Bulldogs are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
- Bulldogs are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.
- Bulldogs are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
- Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Tuesday games.
- Bulldogs are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Over is 4-0 in Nittany Lions last 4 Tuesday games.
- Under is 5-1 in Nittany Lions last 6 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-1 in Nittany Lions last 5 vs. Southeastern.
- Over is 16-5 in Nittany Lions last 21 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 4-0 in Bulldogs last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 5-2 in Bulldogs last 7 overall.
- Under is 20-8 in Bulldogs last 28 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.