Big Ten Conference Tournament First Round betting preview and odds


USA TODAY Sports

The First Round of the Big Ten Tournament gets underway in the nation’s capitol and if any of the teams involved on Wednesday’s hope to go dancing, it will take a miracle run to a conference tournament title.

Tournament to be played at Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2, 141)

The Cornhuskers started conference play with three straight wins for the first time in over 40 years but went 3-12 (5-10 ATS) the rest of the way, including a 93-57 setback to Michigan in the regular-season finale, to finish below .500 for the third consecutive year. Nebraska beat the Nittany Lions 82-66 in the only meeting of the season on Feb. 14 and hopes to build some confidence early in the tournament just like it did during last year’s surprising run to the quarterfinals. Senior guard Tai Webster was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team by the media after averaging 17.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and four assists.

Penn State limps into the conference tournament having lost five straight games (1-4 ATS) following a 90-79 defeat to Iowa on Sunday. The Nittany Lions seemed poised to turn the corner after knocking off Minnesota 52-50 on Jan. 14, but went on to drop 10 of their next 13 games, and they hope to prolong their season by notching a win in the tournament for the first time since 2015. Freshman point guard Tony Carr was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team after averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists during the regular season.

BETTING STATS:

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Penn State is 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games vs. a team with a losing SU record.
* Nebraska is 8-0 ATS in its last eight games vs. a team with a losing SU record.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Penn State’s last four vs. a team with a losing SU record.
* Over is 6-1 in Nebraska’s last seven games following a SU loss.


Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-7.5, 136)

A loss in the regular-season finale dropped Ohio State to the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and the Buckeyes know what they need to do in order to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row: Run the table in Washington, D.C. The Buckeyes had a chance to enjoy a first-round bye with a win Saturday at home against Indiana, but they struggled mightily on the defensive end in a 96-92 setback. The Hoosiers’ point total and number of made field goals (34) established records by an opponent at Ohio State’s arena and rendered useless any momentum the team had built on a two-game winning streak.

That’s a longer streak than the Scarlet Knights ever had while going 3-15 to finish at the bottom of the conference, although they did win their regular-season finale with a 62-59 win over Illinois to snap a six-game skid. Despite finishing in last place in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights doubled their overall win total from last season in their first campaign under Pikiell, which included an 11-2 start in nonconfence play. All three conference victories came by three points or fewer, highlighted by junior forward Deshawn Freeman hitting a 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining to beat the Illini on Saturday.

BETTING STATS:

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Rutgers is 16-35 ATS in its last 51 versus Big Ten opponents.
* Ohio State is 5-16 ATS in its last 21 neutral site games.
* Under is 4-0 in Rutgers’ last four games following a straight up win.
* Over is 8-3 in Ohio State’s last 11 neutral site games.


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