Our hot start to conference play continued last night as we picked up our fourth win in five bets this week when we backed the West Virginia Mountaineers against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The game was an even pick ‘em, and I felt that the timing of this game was heavily in favor of West Virginia.
The Mountaineers have been red-hot this season, especially on the road, and the Cowboys had lost four out of their prior six games and had multiple home floor losses in the last month. So, I backed a road team in league play, something that I try not to make a habit of and felt that West Virginia would have little trouble taking care of the Cowboys on the road.
West Virginia defeats Oklahoma State, 55-41, to pick up first Big 12 road win.
— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 7, 2020
West Virginia put on a clinic on the defensive side of the basketball and held the Cowboys to just forty-one points. OK State shot just 1-20 from beyond the arc, and the forty-one points were the fewest the Mountaineers have allowed in a league game since 1986.
I mentioned in my pick yesterday that this Cowboys team is a talented one, but in a league that is as loaded as the Big 12, somebody has to struggle, and I think this year, the Cowboys are that team. For West Virginia, road wins are going to be hard to come by in league play this season, and they did what they had to do to walk out of Stillwater with the win. For today’s pick, we will head to the Big 10, where the Rutgers Scarlet Knights host the Penn State Nittany Lions.
- Penn State Nittany Lions (12-2) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-3)
- RAC, Piscataway
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: BTN
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will look to stay undefeated at home tonight as they host the Nittany Lions of Penn State in a Big 10 conference game. The Scarlet Knights have surprised a lot of people so far this season as they have gotten out to a hot start at 11-3 and have won five straight games. If Rutgers can knock off a nationally ranked Penn State team tonight, they could find themselves ranked in the top-25 in next week’s AP Poll.
Hosting #20 Penn State at a sold-out RAC tomorrow night. You won’t want to miss this one.
PREVIEW ? » https://t.co/kZXnw1c7sh
— Rutgers Basketball ? (@RutgersMBB) January 7, 2020
For the Nittany Lions, they are over-achieving as well, as they are off to one of the best starts in school history and find themselves ranked at #20 in this week’s poll. Few teams can boast the resume that Penn State has right now as they have top-100 wins over Iowa, Alabama, Maryland, Wake Forrest, Syracuse, Yale, and Georgetown.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Want to know just how good the Big 10 is this season? Kenpom has Rutgers ranked at #43 right now. That is good for twelfth in the Big 10! The record for the most teams to ever make the NCAA tournament from one league in a season is the Big East, with eleven back in 2011. Most years, to get even nine teams in the field is a major accomplishment.
That means if Rutgers can’t figure out how to move up the standings a couple of spots, they could get left out of the madness this year. The Knights have done a great job of protecting their home floor this season as they have home wins over Seton Hall in the non-conference and Wisconsin and Nebraska in Big 10 play.
If Rutgers is going to find a way to position themselves in the top half of the league, they must win games like this at home. It’s a little early in the season to start calling games must-win, but this is a big one for the Knights.
Penn State Nittany Lions
We already talked about Penn State’s collection of quality wins, but when you take a little closer look, there are some questions. Of the twelve Penn State wins, ten of them have come at home. Away from Happy Valley, they are just 2-2.
Now, to be fair to the Nittany Lions, all four of those games came against solid competition, with games against Ohio State, Syracuse, Mississippi, and Georgetown. But we all know how much home-court advantage means in college basketball, and winning at home, even against good teams, just isn’t the same as winning on the road, especially in league play games.
If you look ahead at the conference schedule for Penn State, they are currently projected to win two road games in Big 10 play, against Nebraska and Northwestern. Their projected conference record currently stands at 11-9. And while a winning record in this league will be plenty to send the Nittany Lions dancing in March, this team has aspirations of competing to win the regular-season title. If they are going to have a shot at getting on that level, they must win tonight.
Who Do I Like?
Well, I just told you how important this game is to both teams. These are the types of games that could swing the season for both squads. If Penn State shows they can beat quality teams on the road, they have a very real chance at finishing in the top three or four in the league.
For Rutgers, they must basically run the table at home to finish with a winning record in league play this year. They have just one road game left on the schedule against a team outside of the top-25 on kenpom right now, and that is against #33 Illinois. They haven’t lost a game at home yet this season, as they are 10-0, and they must keep up that pace to keep their heads above water in the Big 10.
If you read my daily picks often, you know I have been like a broken record in the last several weeks. Home teams in the Big 10 have been a favorite bet of mine, specifically home dogs in the Big 10. Here is a fun stat for you, home teams have won 87% of the time in Big 10 league play so far this season. And many of those have come as underdogs. I have always prescribed to an if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality, and right now, taking home dogs in the Big 10 is free money.
This line opened up at Rutgers -2-points, which felt like a sharp number. But the overnight bettors hammered on Penn State, and I get it, the Nittany Lions are ranked, and Rutgers isn’t, it’s a classic public line move scenario. So, I will do what I almost always do, and that is position myself on the other side of the public and fade the line move. Give me the Rutgers Scarlett Knights as +1.5-point home dogs tonight!