Minnesota vs. Penn State Line at -2

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Feb/17/2011
Minnesota vs. Penn State Line

The Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions line was set at -2 with a total of 129.5

For teams like Penn State and Minnesota, we can skip the pleasantries and get right to the realities. The time for these teams to kick it into do-or-die, postseason-must-win mode is now. At 13-11, and 6-7 in the Big Ten, every game is a must-win game for the Nittany Lions, who despite playing the seventh toughest schedule in the nation, has an RPI that places them in the mid 60’s. As for Minnesota, Tubby Smith’s crew is 17-8, and also 6-7 in conference play. Recently they fell out of the Top 25, and just broke a four-game losing streak with a victory at Iowa on Sunday. Both of these teams are in need of a statement-making win streak, Penn State to keep its fading NCAA postseason hopes alive, Minnesota to strengthen its postseason hopes. Thursday night in Happy Valley, the Lions try to give the home fans something to really be happy about, a quality victory and a two-game winning streak in one swoop.

Penn State is coming off of a 65-41 home win Sunday over the Northwestern Wildcats. The victory was highlighted by the milestone performance of Talor Battle. The senior guard scored 19 points, putting him over 2,000 points for his career. Battle joined Wisconsin's Alando Tucker as the Big Ten's only 2,000-point scorers in the past decade. Tim Frazier had 12 points and Jeff Brooks (13.6 PPG, team-high 7.0 RPG) scored 14 in his first start since dislocating his right shoulder nearly two weeks ago. The victory snapped a brutal three-game stretch for the Nittany Lions, which saw them lose games on the road to Illinois and Michigan State, two teams it had previously defeated this season, by an average margin of 17.5 PPG. Sandwiched in between those losses was a painful 65-62 home defeat to Michigan, a game in which PSU squandered a brilliant 31-point, seven-rebound performance from Battle. Head coach Ed DeChellis is hoping that the return of Brooks can provide a lift during this stretch run. The Lions will probably need all the healthy bodies they can get, with a regular season schedule that after Thursday concludes with road games at Wisconsin, Northwestern and Minnesota, and home against Ohio State. The Nittany Lions are 5-2 at home in Big Ten play, with victories over three teams that were nationally ranked at the time.

Tubby Smith’s Golden Gopher crew avoided a fifth straight loss (and third straight road defeat) with a 62-45 road win Sunday at Iowa. Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe exploded in the second half of the game to score 22 of his team-high 24 points. Rodney Williams also chipped in 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Gophers, who ended the longest losing skid in the Smith era with the win. After allowing 71.5 PPG during the four-game losing streak, Minnesota turned up the defense against Iowa, forcing the Hawkeyes into a 34% shooting day, and just allowing one Iowa player (Bryce Cartwright, 11 points) to score in double figures. After Thursday night, the Gophers end the regular season with three of their last four at home in the friendly confines of Williams Arena. Last season these two teams met three times. Minnesota defeated Penn State by five in Williams Arena, before winning a two-point nail-biter in State College. The final meeting of last season was a 21-point blowout win for the Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament.

Penn State is just 4-7 SU, but holds a commanding 8-3 ATS edge in its past 11 home meetings with Minnesota. This season, the Lions are 7-5 ATS at home and 8-5 ATS in Big Ten play. The Gophers are 7-4 ATS on the road, but just 5-8 ATS in conference games, including 1-4 in their past five.

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