NCAAM Pick December 8, 2020 – Penn State Nittany Lions at Virginia Tech Hokies

There were several reasons why I liked Eastern Washington last night in their matchup with the Oregon Ducks. One, the Ducks are down their starting point guard, and are coming off of an early season loss. Two, with no fans in the stands, I felt that the Oregon homecourt advantage wouldn’t be as strong as usual. Three, I felt that EWU was being slightly underrated this season, whereas the Ducks are probably getting a bit too much love. And finally, I felt that if Oregon did pull away from EWU, that they would have little reason to run up the score, and that we should still find a cover, getting +14.5 points.

I guess nobody sent the don’t run up the score memo to Oregon, though, as that is exactly what they did late in this game. The Eagles actually led for much of the first half, and even after a big run to start the second half by Oregon, EWU never trailed by more than fourteen points. We had this line covered going into the game’s final possession, trailing 66-52 with 30-seconds left on the clock.

That’s when Oregon’s Jalen Terry decided that a 14-point lead just wasn’t enough and decided to jack up a 3-pointer. Obviously, he found the bottom of the net, and our cover was spoiled. EWU had this line covered for over 39-minutes, but when all the smoke cleared, we took a tough last-minute bad beat. For Oregon, the Ducks were happy to win their home opener and notch a non-conference win before jumping into PAC-12 league play next week.

For EWU, the Eagles are happy to be done playing PAC-12 teams, as they are 0-3 playing against the conference to start the season. The Eagles are still the favorites in the Big Sky Conference, but can’t love their 0-3 start to the year. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Blacksburg, where the Virginia Tech Hokies host the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Today’s Game

  • Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0)
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg
  • 6:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPNU

The Penn State Nittany Lions are still reeling after blowing a 19-point homecourt lead in their last game to the Pirates of Seton Hall and will look to get back on track tonight on the road at Virginia Tech. Penn State is expected to finish in the bottom half of the loaded Big 10 this year, but in a league that could get as many as 10-teams into the NCAA tournament, finishing near the bottom could be good enough to go dancing. A win in the non-conference over a ranked team like Virginia Tech would go a long way into cementing the Nittany Lion’s status as a tournament level team.

For Virginia Tech, the Hokies have surprised a lot of people this year, as they had started their season out undefeated and have quickly jumped into the top-25 nationally. The big win for V-Tech came against the 3rd ranked Wildcats of Villanova, and with conference play just a couple of days away, this will be the final test of the non-conference for the Hokies.

Spread:

  • Virginia Tech Hokies (-5)
  • Penn State Nittany Lions (+5)
Money line:

  • Virginia Tech Hokies (-245)
  • Penn State Nittany Lions (+195)
Total Points:

  • Over 141.5 (-110)
  • Under 141.5 (-110)

Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1)

I like this Penn State team more than most people do right now. A lot of people in the media see Penn State as a bubble team at best, but I think the Nittany Lions are going to be dancing in March. They aren’t going to win the Big 10, but as we mentioned above, they aren’t going to even need to finish in the top half of the Big 10 this season to pick up an at-large bid into the tournament. They are solid at home, and as long as they can upset some teams in Happy Valley during league play, they should safely be in the field of 68.

That being said, the implosion at home against Seton Hall was a brutal blow to their tournament chances. Seton Hall is going to be down this year, and Penn State needed that win on their resume. They will have a shot to more than make up for it tonight if they can knock off Virginia Tech, but that is going to be a tall order as they are major underdogs. This is the final non-conference game on the Penn State schedule, and if they can’t pick up the upset victory, they are going to hit league play, needing to pad their resume a lot more than they had hoped, as they are light on quality victories.

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0)

If you are an avid reader of my daily picks, you will know that I am very high on this Virginia Tech team. They are much better than they are being given credit for, and while I don’t see them as ACC regular-season champs, I do see them finishing near the top of the league standings, and it wouldn’t shock me to see them as a top-4 seed in the NCAA tournament. The win over Villanova looked like a huge upset on the surface, but if those teams played again, I could see the Hokies knocking them off a second time.

The star of the show for V-Tech has been Keve Aluma. Aluma is averaging a team-high 18 points and 7 boards a game. In the win against Villanova, Aluma exploded for 23 points and 8 rebounds and had 2 big blocks as well. Aluma averaged just 7 points a game last year, and if he can continue this level of scoring production, he could carry the Hokies to the second weekend of March Madness and beyond.

Who Do I Like?

I hope this isn’t me being emotional and rage betting against Penn State because they blew that big lead against Seton Hall. You see, I had backed Penn State in that game, and their second-half implosion was quite frustrating. But when I take a hard look at the data on both of these teams, this bet seems to be rooted in facts, not emotions.

Kenpom has the Hokies winning this game by six points. So, the opening line of V-Tech -7, might have very well been slightly inflated. But now that the public has gotten ahold of this line and moved it two points towards Penn State, to where it stands now at Penn State +5, the line seems to be a bit undervalued on Virginia Tech. Now I can place my rage bet against Penn State, and have the data to back me up. Fade the public and bet against Penn State? Ummm, yeah, give me some of that.

The Bet

After seeing the Nittany Lions just completely give up in the second half at home, it is hard not to expect more of the same tonight on the road. Winning in Blacksburg is never easy, and with this Hokies team being underrated in the ACC, I think V-Tech wins this game fairly easily.

They won’t blow them out, as Penn State is a talented team, but I do see them pulling away in the second half and coasting to the win and the cover. Give me the Virginia Tech Hokies tonight, laying -5-points, against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Bet: Virginia Tech Hokies -5

My Pick
Virginia Tech Hokies -5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL