Michigan Basketball vs Penn State: Odds, prediction and how to watch

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Michigan basketball is hosting Penn State on Wednesday in an important Big Ten matchup. Here are the odds, a prediction, and how to watch. 

The last time we saw Michigan basketball the Wolverines were blowing the doors off Maryland in a huge victory.

Michigan is just 8-5 overall but is 2-0 in the Big Ten conference and beating 11-3 Penn State to improve to 3-0 is just what the doctor ordered for the Wolverines’ NCAA tournament chances.

It’s not like it would make Michigan a lock, but it would certainly get things trending in the right direction again with a trip to Michigan State looming on Saturday.

As we said the Nittany Lions are no joke. They are fresh off a win over Iowa and are 2-1 in the Big Ten, as well as 11-3 overall. It’s also an experienced team that returned more than 55 percent of the minutes played from last season as well as 53.9 percent of its scoring.

However, one thing you’ll notice when you look at the roster is a lack of size. There are only two players that are 6-foot-10 or taller on the roster and they are both freshmen. Michael Henn is also 6-foot-8 but has only seen limited action so Penn State isn’t a big team.

That would seem like a good thing for Hunter Dickinson but the Nittany Lions actually rank 50th in 2-point percentage defense (44 percent) and have been winning with a solid defense, as well as an offense that shoots the 3-pointer as well as just about anyone (5th in 3-point makes nationally).

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Penn State drubbed Illinois on the road by 15 points and so far in 14 games, has allowed just two teams to hit the 70-point barrier. Clemson scored 101 actually in an overtime loss. Outside of that, Iowa (79) was the only team to hit 70 points.

That win over Illinois also sparked a five-game winning streak. The Nittany Lions are ranked 44th according to the Kenpom rankings. Michigan basketball is 46th. Penn State’s offense is ranked 33rd in adjusted efficiency and 65th in defense. Michigan is 34th and 72nd.

Penn State’s offense is driven by ball screens and Jalen Pickett has been spectacular in that regard. As Dylan Burkhardt of UMHoops points out, Michigan basketball is second-to-last in the country at points per possession allowed on ball screens, while Penn State has allowed the third-most out of the post-ups.

It’s two really good offenses going up against defenses that struggle in areas that have allowed the offenses to be really good.

Outside of ball screens, the 3-point shot is where Penn State makes its money, and Michigan basketball needs to close out and communicate as well as it did against Maryland when it allowed just 13 first-half points.

Pickett doesn’t kill teams from 3-point range but his teammates do and the Nittany Lions have three players — Seth Lundy, Andrew Funk, and Myles Dread all averaging more than two 3-point makes per game. Michigan doesn’t have a single player in that range.

So this should be a good one. Here’s a look at the odds, how to watch, and our prediction.

Michigan basketball vs Penn State odds

Michigan basketball is listed as a 4.5-point favorite according to Fan Duel with the over/under set for 140.5. The money line for the Wolverines is -188 and it’s +155 for Penn State.

(Odds are subject to change)

Michigan basketball vs Penn State prediction

This Michigan team has been really hard to read. However, the response after the Central Michigan loss is what we have waited to see all season. We knew this team wasn’t going to be great defensively, but it could be better than what it showed during the first 12 games.

There was no sense of urgency and at times, not enough effort. That changed against Maryland, but was it a one-off thing?

Michigan really needs to win this game. Penn State is a top-50 team according to the Kenpom rankings and the Wolverines need to start bolstering the resume, which means winning the games at home you are supposed to win.

However, the ball-screen defense of Michigan and the 3-point shooting of Penn State are real concerns. Penn State doubled Hunter Dickinson a lot last season and without any true options to guard him one-on-one, the Nittany Lions will have no choice.

That means guys need to hit shots. Terrance Williams started hot on Sunday and that’s always a spark when he gets going. But Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard need to be at their best and guys like Joey Baker need to make the open shots they are bound to get.

At the same time, Dickinson needs to impact the game. If Penn State is able to limit his touches, then he needs to rebound, pass, and defend his way to a Michigan win.

Despite the win over Maryland, this team’s back is still firmly against the wall and as conference play hits, they are firmly on the bubble. This is a must-win and while the matchups are weird on both sides, Michigan will get enough from Dickinson, Howard, and Bufkin to win.

Bufkin has started to emerge as a really solid two-way player and his defense on Pickett will be key as will his ability to attack the basket.

It’s going to be close, but Michigan basketball gets a second straight win heading into the Michigan State game as the better defensive effort carries over and the Wolverines’ two best players do enough to carry them to a win by the score of 73-65.

How to watch Michigan vs Penn State

Tip-off: 7 PM EST

TV: Big Ten Network

Stream: Fubo TV

Listen: mgoblue.com

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