The Penn State Nittany Lions have been an afterthought in the Big Ten Conference for the last few decades, but that isn’t the case this season. Penn State has a legitimate chance to win the regular season conference title in 2019-20, but they still have plenty of work to do. The Nittany Lions will host the Illinois Fighting Illini on Tuesday night in a battle of two of the biggest surprise teams in the league.
Illinois comes into this game having lost four straight games, and they are also dealing with some major injury concerns. The Fighting Illini have now slipped to sixth place in the Big Ten Conference with a record of 8-6, and they are 16-9 overall. Penn State comes into this game with a record of 20-5, and they are in second place in the Big Ten Conference. The Nittany Lions have won eight straight conference games to improve their record to 10-4 in league play.
Fighting Illini Need to Make Shots
Illinois has had a great season up to this point, but they are in desperate need of finding some more offense going forward. The Fighting Illini are scoring 73.0 points per game this season, but that number continues to go down of late. Illinois has given up just 65.2 points per game, and their defense has made up for a lack of offense. The Fighting Illini have made just 142 three point shots this season, and some of their best shooters have really struggled. Illinois will have to shoot it well to win this game.
The Fighting Illini could be getting Ayo Dosunmu back in the lineup for this game, and that will give them a huge boost. Dosunmu leads the team with 15.8 points and close to four assists per game, and has made some huge shots for this team. Center Kofi Cockburn is hard to stop when he gets the ball, but the Nittany Lions will surround him with defenders.
Penn State Does it All Well
There is a reason that Penn State is near the top of the Big Ten Conference, and that is because they do everything well this season. Penn State is averaging 77.5 points per game this season, while also holding opponents to just 67.4 points per game. The Nittany Lions have been solid on both ends of the floor, and that dominance is even more pronounced when playing on their home floor this season.
Forward Lamar Stevens is one of the best players in the Big Ten Conference, and he leads the team with close to 18 points per game. Stevens can score in a variety of ways, but he has also had plenty of help from his teammates. Forward Mike Watkins is shooting over 56 percent from the floor, and point guard Jamari Wheeler is averaging 3.2 assists per game. The Nittany Lions might not have a ton of future NBA players, but this is a solid team that is loaded with veterans.
Nittany Lions Take Command on Home Floor
The Penn State Nittany Lions were expected to be an NCAA Tournament team this season, but they are a legitimate Final Four contender. The Nittany Lions have been dominant on their home floor this season, and they aren’t going to take the Fighting Illini lightly. Illinois has had a great season as well, but their offense has really been struggling of late. Look for the Fighting Illini to play much better in this game, but it’s just hard to see them have enough to win this game. Penn State doesn’t lose games at home, and they aren’t losing this one. Bet the Penn State Nittany Lions -5.5 over the Illinois FIghting Illini in this Big Ten showdown. Take the Nittany Lions at PayPerHead247.com ; our favorite pay per head bookie site.