Penn State might be the team that nobody in the Big 10 wants to face in the conference tournament and Minnesota just so happens to get them in their opening game. There’s no doubt the Nittany Lions are red hot, winning 7 of their last 10. Minnesota is no pushover here however as their 19-10 record is much better than PSU’s 14-17 season. Penn State is favored by -3 in the March 14th Big Ten CBB free pick which seems on the low side – are oddsmakers begging bettors to take the Nittany Lions?
Can Penn State Continue to Be Their Second Half Selves?
It’s been a mixed year for Penn State, starting 0-10 in the conference before turning things around for a 7-13 mark in the Big 10. The signature win over that span was a 75-69 victory over Michigan and PSU has also looked dominant at times in beating Nebraska by 24 and Maryland by 17. Even in a 4 point loss to the Badgers in Madison to kick off March Penn State had at least a chance at the win. Defense has largely been the key to the Nittany Lions success lately (4 straight opponents under 65 points) but there offense can erupt on any given night.
Lamar Stevens is the player to watch in the March 14th Big Ten CBB free pick and arguably the whole torunament. Stevens was named to the all conference team after averaging nearly 20 points and 8 rebounds per game. Stevens scored 27 points in a 64-65 loss at Minnesota in mid-January. He does have plenty of help however. Josh Reaves closed out the regular season with a 26 point outing vs. Illinois. Penn State runs a 3-guard offense but can the 6’8″ Stevens and the 6’9″ John Harrar match up with the size of Minnesota down low?
Golden Gophers Flying Under the Radar Into This One?
Yes Penn State is streaking coming into the conference tournament but Minnesota looked great in a 73-69 win over Purdue on March 5th. Minnesota is confident they will hear their name called on Selection Sunday after going 19-12 while playing in the rugged Big 10 but a win over the Nittany Lions on Thursday would solidify that. To get the win in the March 14th Big Ten CBB free pick, the Golden Gophers will have to improve on their defense that has allowed 68+ points to 4 of the last 5 opponents.
Penn State may have one of the best players in the conference in Stevens, but Minnesota boasts one of the hottest in Amir Coffey. The Jr. has stepped up his game immensely over the last three, scoring point totals of 31, 32, and 23. If Coffey can stay hot, it presents a great inside-out combo for the Golden Gophers as Jordan Murphy patrols the interior as the leading rebounder in the league with 11.7 per game. 6’10” Gophers C Daniel Oturu also gives Minnesota a size advantage as the biggest starter on the court.
March 14th Big Ten CBB Free Pick Betting
Penn State is a -3 favorite even though they are a #10 seed up against the #7 Gophers. It’s understandable though as since their 1st conference win over Northwestern, the Nittany Lions rank 8th best in efficiency. The way Coffey has been playing lately however, the inside presence of Murphy, and the fact that Minnesota has their postseason chances on the line makes Minnesota the play against the grain.
Big Ten Free Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers +3