Ohio State controls its Big Ten title destiny, but the No. 8 Buckeyes could have their hands full Thursday night at Penn State.
Ohio State’s only conference loss this season came at the hands of the Nittany Lions, who beat the Buckeyes with Tony Carr’s buzzer-beater on Jan. 25. The oddsmakers think Penn State can send Chris Holtmann’s team its second Big Ten defeat of the season Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network) at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State was listed as a 1-point favorite over Ohio State by multiple sports books, including the Westgate Superbook and BetOnline. The game is also a toss up in the eyes of ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), which gave Ohio State a 50.2 percent chance of winning.
The contest has substantial implications for both teams. Ohio State, which enters at 13-1 in conference play, is looking to keep its Big Ten lead over both Michigan State (13-2) and Purdue (12-2 with a Thursday night game at Wisconsin).
Penn State, meanwhile, is making a late-season push for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Nittany Lions have won five of their last six games stretching back to their last meeting with the Buckeyes. Penn State is still on the outskirts of the bubble, however, with an 18-9 overall mark and 8-6 record in the Big Ten.
A win against a top-10 opponent could push the team much closer to its first big dance berth in seven years.
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