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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick, Odds, Prediction 12/31/13

Michigan State Spartans (11-1) at Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4)

College Basketball: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm (Bryce Jordan Center)

The Line: Penn State Nittany Lions +6 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: Big Ten Network

The Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan State Spartans square off on Tuesday as they begin their Big Ten schedules.

The Penn State Nittany Lions appear to be drastically improved over last season when they suffered through some tough injuries. PSU has played the 164th ranked schedule and they have gone 6-2 at home but this is their first game against a team ranked in the top 25. D.J. Newbill leads the Nittany Lions averaging 18.9 points and 6.2 rebounds. Tim Frazier is averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 assists, Ross Travis is averaging 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds, and Brandon Taylor is averaging 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds. Penn State is averaging 81.2 points and they are shooting 47.7 percent from the floor while defensively they are allowing 73.2 points and their opponents shoot 41.5 percent. Penn State has won three of their last four games and this is a rare year for them that they have two guys who can take over a game.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick, Odds, Prediction 12/31/13

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans are off to an 11-1 start to the season and they are ranked fifth in the nation. MSU lost to North Carolina but have won their last four games since then and they are unbeaten away from home this season. Adreian Payne is averaging 18 points and 7.9 rebounds to lead the Spartans. Gary Harris is averaging 17.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, Keith Appling is averaging 15.9 points and 5.0 assists, and Branden Dawson is averaging 10.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Michigan State is averaging 83.7 points and they are shooting 49.1 percent while defensively they are allowing 65.3 points and their opponents are shooting 37.6 percent. Michigan State looks to be a contender for the Final Four and we will find out a lot about them in a hurry as they face Indiana and Ohio State next.

Penn State is 6-2 against the spread in their last eight home games, 7-2-1 against the spread in their last 10 games overall, and 9-3-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record. Michigan State is 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight games, 2-5-1 against the spread against the Big Ten, and 5-1-1 against the spread following a win. The home team has covered the point spread in the last five meetings of these two.

The line looks suspiciously small but the trends surrounding this series suggest close games and I see that being the case here as well. 

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Penn State +6

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