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Hunter Dickinson
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Odds and Ends

Big Ten clash, OSU-Michigan, Iowa First Half

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: February 21, 2021, 10:32 am ET

Michigan at Ohio State (PK)

This spread opened at -1.5 in favor of Ohio State on Saturday but had flipped to Michigan -1.5 before going to a pick em. Michigan has revenge on their minds as they were swept by Ohio State last season but the Buckeyes are getting enough money on them to bring this to an even grab either way.

Michigan won the only meeting in 2018-19, but in the last five, Ohio State has won three-of-five and four straight in Columbus, dating back to 2015. Michigan enters this game, ranking first in conference play at 10-1 and Ohio State third at 12-4. This is a huge matchup for the standings, especially since Illinois destroyed Minnesota on the road (94-63) and sits in sole possession of second place. 

If Ohio State wins, they will remain in third-place but be slightly closer to moving up the standings. OSU has four games remaining on the schedule, including this matchup. The final two games are against Michigan and Illinois to end the season on March 2 and 6, so three of the last four are against the top teams in the conference.

The Buckeyes are playing their best basketball of the season and are 9-1 SU (90%) at home this season, the only loss a 67-65 close call with Purdue. Michigan is 4-1 SU (80%) on the road this season with a 22-point loss at Minnesota. 

NBC Edge's best trend for the Wolverines supports the spread. Michigan is 20-7 (74.1%) ATS in its last 27 games. The favorite is 4-1 ATS (80%) in the last five meetings, which favors Michigan on some books, as of now. The Wolverines are 6-1 ATS (85.7%) in their last seven games as a road favorite, while Ohio State has covered five consecutive games overall. Both Michigan and Ohio State have covered in eight of the last 10 games.

In the last 10 games overall, the Buckeyes are 7-2-1 (70%) to the Over. The Wolverines are only 3-7 (30%) to the Over in the previous 10 games. Ohio State and Michigan are both ranked first and second offensively in numerous categories, so the Over is not a bad look. However, it opened at 147.0 and 148.0 on some books, and dropped to 145.0 with sharps playing the Under.

Michigan averages 76.0 points per game over the last 10 games (73rd) and OSU 80.1 (29th). Ohio State has averaged 82.2 points in the last five games, the 14th-most in the nation. Michigan is a more defensive orientated squad averaging 63.3 points per game allowed over 10 games and 58.7 over in the last three.

Michigan has yet to play Iowa, Illinois or Ohio State, the top three teams in Big Ten standings along with the Wolverines. This will be the most challenging task to date for the Wolverines and I expect both teams to focus on the defensive side of the ball despite being so efficient offensively. Both offenses rank top seven in the country for adjusted offensive efficiency and OSU ranks 62nd in defense. Michigan ranks seventh in the country with an 89.5 defensive adjusted efficiency and a Big Ten best 92.6 rating.

Ohio State has scored 73 or more in 10 of the last 11 games and Michigan has totaled 70 or more in eight of the previous 10 outings. Despite those impressive numbers, the last few meetings between the two programs have generated 119 points, 140, 114, 133 and 136 points dating back to 2017-18. The last 11 meetings have gone Under this total. The last time a total score between the two went Over 145 points was Feb. 2, 2013, when the meeting finished 76-74 in OT. Based on that, I will bet one of these squads fails to hit the 70-point mark and in turn, hit the game Under.

Game Pick: Under 145 (1u)


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Penn State at Iowa (-11.5)

This is one of the most intriguing games on a short-slate today. For the first time, Iowa and Penn State meet this season as Big Ten play is coming to a close. The Hawkeyes sit fourth in the conference (10-5), while the Nittany Lions are 12th (4-10). Iowa plays two of the three teams ahead of them to end the season and has a realistic chance to earn the No. 3 seed or higher.

Penn State's season is pretty much over at this point, sitting at 7-11 (4-10). Once conference play began, Penn State lost five straight games and enter this road contest with three straight losses overall and seven straight away from State College. The Nittany Lions opponents have gotten off to a quicks start at home, and I expect the Hawkeyes to continue that trend today. 

Penn State's first-half road scores:

At MSU: MSU 32, PSU 24


AT OSU: OSU 43, PSU 39

AT ILL: ILL 42, PSU 28

AT PUR: PUR 33, PSU 32

AT IND: IND 38, PSU 33



Penn State has allowed all seven Big Ten opponents to record 32 or more points in the first half when the Nittany Lions are on the road. Penn State let four-of-seven teams surpass 36 or more points, three of them being against ranked Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State. 

Another ranked foe is on the menu and the Hawkeyes are the best first half team the Nittany Lions will face. Iowa averages 42.4 points per first half on the season, third overall behind Gonzaga (46.6) and Bryant (43.3). At home, Iowa ranks third with 44.7 points, behind Gonzaga (49.6) and Baylor (47.1). 

In Iowa's last five home games, they scored 34 (Rutgers), 37 (Indiana), 39 (Minnesota), 45 (Ohio State) and 48 (Michigan State) points during the first half (numerical order). In the last two games overall, both coming on the road, Iowa recorded 46 points against Michigan State and 36 at Wisconsin. 

Penn State's two-point defense ranks last in the Big Ten with 55.5% allowed per game, meaning Iowa's Luka Garza should feast down low. Garza averages 24.7 points and 8.4 rebounds on the season. He is coming off his seventh 30-point game of the season. 

At home, Garza's play elevates as he averages 26.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and a higher field goal (57.7%) and three-point percentage (48.9%) than on the road. Iowa as a team is hitting 49.0% in conference play from the two (8th), but holds the countries No. 1 ranked offensive adjusted efficiency (128.2). The Hawkeyes also come in at 17th for effective field goal percentage (55.7%) and first in turnover percentage (13.2%).

Iowa ranks first in the Big Ten (42.0%) and fourth nationally (40.4%) from three-point land. However, the Hawkeyes defend the three-ball at the 10th-ranked 35.4% in conference play. The Nittany Lions rank seventh offensively with 33.1% from deep in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions allow opponents to make 77.5% of free-throws (last) and hold the second-worst defensive effective field goal percentage (54.3%) in the conference. Penn State also plays with the third-fastest tempo (69.1), where Iowa plays with the fifth-ranked tempo (68.6). Expect both teams to play fast and gun it from three when able. Penn State has attempted 28 and 31 three-pointers in their last two games, while Iowa's opponents attempted 21 and 34 attempts during that span. 

Iowa won the last two games by 15 or more points, scoring 77 and 87 total points and 36 and 46 in the first half. Penn State is on a three-game losing streak and 1-4 SU (20%) over the last five games.I think both teams could get out to quick starts, but Iowa has Garza, the advantage in the paint and beyond the arc.

Back the Hawkeyes to continue their dominance in the first-half scoring, but live bet them within the first five minutes to get a better number than the 40.5 offered. I was a bit shocked to see Iowa's first-half team total open that high, and the game total is 74.0. Vegas is undoubtedly expecting points at a ridiculous rate to stary off the game, but I was looking for 35.5-37.0 for the team total and 69.5 for the half total. You can grab the Under 40.5 now and live bet the Over 34.5 up to 37.5 to try and win both bets somewhere in between. 

Iowa has also trailed in the first half of a majority of their games and if that trend continues, you can buy low on Iowa First Half spread or Moneyline. Penn State has trailed by halftime in every conference road game this season. If you are looking to live bet the full game spread, I would attempt to grab this around -6 or -7 in favor of Iowa and +14 or +15 if you are backing Penn State.

Game Pick: Live Bet Iowa First Half Team Total or Spread

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.