Big Ten basement dwellers battle in the opening round of the conference tournament when the Penn State Nittany Lions face the Minnesota Golden Gophers inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
Both programs back into the postseason on extended losing skids and this neutral-site matchup will be the third travel spot in a row for each of these foes.
The Nittany Lions picked up seven wins in conference play while the Gophers finished last at 4-16, however, they split their two regular-season meetings.
Big Ten bettors get the rubber match – like it or not – with our free college basketball picks and predictions for Minnesota vs. Penn State on March 9.
Minnesota vs Penn State odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Penn State opened as low as -2.5 on the neutral court and has risen to -3.5 with early play on the Nittany Lions. The total opened as high as 126 points and is down to 125 as of Wednesday morning.
Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.
Minnesota vs Penn State predictions
Predictions made on 3/9/2022 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Minnesota vs Penn State game info
• Location: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
• Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022
• Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET
• TV: BTN
Minnesota at Penn State betting preview
Minnesota: No injuries to report.
Penn State: No injuries to report.
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Nittany Lions are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall. Find more NCAA betting trends for Minnesota vs. Penn State.
Minnesota vs Penn State picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
Neither team looks great entering the Big Ten tournament, but Penn State may be a stronger team than its record would indicate.
The Nittany Lions suffered five of their 13 conference losses by five points or less, including their two most recent defeats at Rutgers and at Illinois. That helped PSU build a 13-7 ATS mark against Big Ten foes.
Penn State’s 76-70 loss at Minnesota on February 12 was a bad spot for the Nittany Lions, ripe for a letdown after a grinder of a game versus Michigan and getting looked over with a home stand against Michigan State three days later.
Luckily, Micah Shrewsberry’s guys didn’t have to wait long to correct that mistake. The Nittany Lions blasted Minnesota 67-46 at home on February 17, checking the Gophers to 32% shooting from the field and dominating them in the second half with a 40-27 difference in the closing 20 minutes. Granted, the Gophers were playing their third game in six days.
Penn State will lean on that same defense in the tournament opener, ranked 60th in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom and holding foes to just 41.4% shooting on the season. The bulk of those defensive efforts have to come on the perimeter.
Minnesota is reliant on makes from long range, picking up more than 35% of its total points from beyond the arc on the season and becoming even more 3-point focused during that three-game slide to end the season. That point percentage has jumped to 45% off threes with the offense knocking down almost 11 triples per contest in that span.
However, in the season finale at Northwestern, the Gophers shot just 7 for 21 from outside and fell behind by 20 points at the half. Minnesota’s 3-point touch dwindles to 34.8% outside of Williams Arena, dragging down the team’s offensive efficiency rating.
While this isn’t a true road game, taking place in Indiana, the Golden Gophers could be hard-pressed to find that shooting touch and find themselves behind early on against Penn State on Wednesday night.
Prediction: Penn State -3.5 (-110)
Penn State rolls out the slowest tempo in the Big Ten, chewing up the shot clock when it has the basketball and then playing tough on-the-ball defense on the other end of the floor.
The Nittany Lions force misses and does a great job cleaning the glass, owning a rebound rate of 53.1% which includes snatching up more than 25 defensive boards per outing and allowing opponents to steal away just 7.5 offensive rebounds per game.
If Minnesota isn’t making from outside, there’s little chance the Gophers are going to get an extra possession out of that series. They sit 356th in offensive rebounding percentage and rank out among the bottom of the NCAA in second-chance scoring opportunities.
These rivals blasted a low total of 128 points in their first matchup in Minnesota, combining for 146 points in one of PSU’s worst defensive showings of the season. The second matchup pumped out only 113 points and has plenty of headroom with that total at 128.
Wednesday’s number is down to as low as 125.5 and with this being a foreign venue, each teams’ third straight travel spot, and adding a pinch of postseason jitters, we like the Under in this Big Ten tournament opener.
Prediction: Under 125.5 (-110)
Penn State comes into the Big Ten tournament as one of the more experienced teams in the country, ranked out 11th in terms of average age at KenPom. That roster rich in upperclassmen won’t want their college careers to go out with a first-round exit to the last-place team in the conference.
As mentioned, the Nittany Lions have a sterling ATS record against Big Ten foes and even if they had won three of those five losses that came by five or less, PSU would have sat ninth in the standings.
If you’re baking on the Golden Gophers, you’re crossing your fingers that Minnesota can take and make plenty of 3-point buckets in a gym they’re not used to. However, Penn State’s strength is its tempo and defense which translates much easier to foreign venues.
Passing on the point spread could be the easiest option now that this spread has been bet up past a possession to PSU -3.5. You can get the Nittany Lions to simply win outright at -165.
Pick: Penn State moneyline -165
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