Siena welcomes the Nittany Lions to Times Union Center for a matchup in the quarterfinals of the CBI Tournament, and the situation strongly favors the home underdog. The Saints are 31-14 ATS at home versus non-conference opponents and 11-3 ATS at home following a home game and are coming off an impressive 66-55 win over Stony Brook as 1-point favorites last Tuesday.
While Penn State is 3.5 points per game better than average offensively this season (71.4 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.9 points per game), the Nittany Lions are 6-9 on the road where they are averaging just 68.0 points per game on 41.4% shooting from the field. More importantly, Penn State is averaging a woeful 62.6 points over its last five games so we do not expect much offense from the Nittany Lions tonight.
That conclusion is further substantiated by the fact that Siena is 11-4 SU and 9-5 ATS at home where the Saints are allowing just 67.7 points per game (40.1% FG; 30.3% 3-PT). We also have been impressed with Siena’s renewed focus on playing defense as the Saints have limited opponents to a mere 62.0 points on 37.9% shooting over their last five games.
Most casual sports bettors would be surprised to learn that Siena also possesses an advantage under the boards. Specifically, the Saints are averaging 38 rebounds per game (12 offensive) this season, which is +3.0 better than average, whereas Penn State is pulling down 35 rebounds per game (9 offensive), which is only 1.0 better than average. Siena’s late-season surge can also be attributed to the fact that the Saints are limiting opponents to just 27 rebounds (4 offensive) over their last five games.
These teams also appear to be heading in opposite directions as Penn State is 4-7 SU and ATS over its last eleven games, while the Saints have won five of their last six games. The only question facing the Saints is whether the events from their last game, wherein three players were ejected (Evan Hymes, Javion Ogunyemi and Maurice White), will serve as a distraction. All three players were ejected after leaving the bench during a scuffle against Stony Brook, but all three have been upgraded to ‘probable’ for tonight’s game against the Nittany Lions.
Finally, motivation will not be an issue for Siena for tonight’s nationally televised CBI Quarterfinal game at Times Union Center. “It’s impressive,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said. “That’s a BCS, Big Ten school. They beat Ohio State twice. That’s a team with resources. They’ve done well. The questions is, do we want to keep playing and do our fans want to see a Big Ten basketball team? For us, I like it because we haven’t beaten a BCS school.” Interestingly, Siena averaged 6.325 fans this season, whereas the Nittany Lions only averaged 6,257 fans.