The Big Ten has no shortage of teams either fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid or seeding to avoid being a low seed in the road of 64 and two of those teams in need of a boost for their resume hook up on Wednesday when the Northwestern Wildcats play host to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Penn State Nittany Lions and Northwestern Wildcats (-3.5, 134)
Though both of these teams play at a slow pace without an overwhelming big man, that’s where the similarities end.
Penn State is looking to win with efficient offensive play, turning the ball over the fewest times per possession on offense of any team in the country and ranking 25th overall in points scored on a per-possession basis.
The Northwestern defense is 23rd in the country in points allowed on a per-possession basis and is forcing a turnover on 21.1% of possessions, which ranks 33rd nationally.
The Big Ten has had pretty big home and road splits for most teams this season and these two squads are no exception as Northwestern and Penn State both allow 11.1 more points per 100 possessions on defense when away from home.
The Northwestern perimeter defense also improves at home, allowing opponents to shoot 31.8% from 3-point range at home compared to 37.1% away from home.
Forcing missed outside shots is key given Penn State is 10th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage and overall for the season is making 36.3% of their 3-pointers away from home, but also rebounds just 15.6% of their misses when on the road, which ranks 361st in the country.
While neither team is stellar on the glass, Northwestern grabs an offensive rebound on 26.3% of their missed shots at home and with the Wildcats’ ball security on par with Penn State’s, ranking 16th in the country in turnovers per possession on offense, the Wildcats will protect their home court for their fourth-straight win and cover at home.
The Play: Northwestern -3.5
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