The first spot in the NIT Final Four will be secured Tuesday when Marquette hosts Penn State at 7 p.m. ET. The second-seeded Golden Eagles (21-13) and third-seeded Nittany Lions (23-13) square off in a game that opened as a pick-’em before sliding to Marquette -2.5.
With so much on the line between two evenly matched teams who are unfamiliar with each other, you’ll want to see what SportsLine’s advanced computer has to say.
This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is hammering college hoops. It entered the week on a red-hot 17-4 streak on its college basketball picks.
Now, it’s focused on in the NIT, breaking down key matchups in Marquette-Penn State and generating an ATS pick that hits over 60 percent of the time.
The model knows Marquette scored a season-high 102 points while beating Oregon on Saturday. The added 3-point distance the NIT installed (20 inches) has not slowed down the Eagles, who drained 10 threes in the first half. Andrew Rowsey hit five of them and scored 16 points in the first quarter alone.
Marquette averages 11 3-pointers per game, fifth-most in the country. Rowsey and fellow 5-foot-11 guard Markus Howard combine to form one of the more-potent 1-2 combos in the country, each averaging more than 20 points.
While Marquette comes in having won seven of nine, Penn State has won four of five, including knocking off top-seed Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday. PSU never trailed and Tony Carr, winding down the highest-scoring sophomore season in program history, put up 24 points.
Marquette has the hot-shooting guards, but Penn State has the size, including the 6-5 Carr, 6-8 sophomore Lamar Stevens (14.7 ppg) and 6-9 sophomore Mike Watkins (12.1), though his status is in question with a knee ailment.
Penn State has been solid against the spread: 11-4 in its last 15. Marquette has been winning but not covering, on a 1-4 ATS slide.
The game will be held at the on-campus Al McGuire Center, which seats just 3,600 — instead of the 18,000-seat Bradley Center where Marquette typically plays its home games. The Eagles already beat Harvard and Oregon at the smaller venue.
So what side should you take on Penn State-Marquette? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread is hitting over 60 percent of the time, from the computer model entering the week on 17-4 run.