Illinois at Penn State Betting Preview, Selection, Odds

Game: Illinois at Penn State (-6.5)

Sharp: Dave Miller

Selection: Penn State (-6.5)

Red-hot ninth-ranked Penn State (20-5, 10-4 Big Ten) will look to extend its school-record conference winning streak to nine against scuffling Illinois (16-9, 8-6) at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park on Tuesday evening. This is the only regular-season meeting between the two teams.

The Nittany Lions scored a 77-61 home win over Northwestern on Saturday to reach the 20-victory plateau in the regular season for the first time since 2008-09. Senior forward Lamar Stevens finished the game with 23 points to lead all scorers, and sophomore guard Myles Dread connected on 4-of-11 shots from 3-point range to net 16 points.

Pat Chambers has done a magnificent job with this team, which is positioned to play for the Big Ten crown down the stretch. The Nittany Lions have risen to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 poll, tying a record for the program's highest ranking. PSU previously reached that ranking twice, most recently in February 1996, when future NBA player Calvin Booth was a freshman.

The senior forward Stevens has stepped up even more with sophomore guard Myreon Jones out with an illness. Jones is the team's second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game yet the team hasn't missed a beat in his absence. He is questionable for this matchup with the Fighting Illini.

Meanwhile, Brad Underwood's Illini have dropped four straight games to fall out of the rankings. Star guard Ayo Dosunmu, who missed Saturday's loss at Rutgers (left leg injury), remains day to day. He is the Illini's leading scorer at 15.8 points per contest and the leading ball distributor. Underwood admitted after the Rutgers loss that the team missed Dosunmu even more defensively than on the other end.

The Nittany Lions have attempted 57 3-pointers in their last two games and have made 25 of them. I don't see them slowing down any time soon. Meanwhile, the Illini rank 13th in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (31.1).

Chambers is 5-0 head-to-head against Underwood, who has done a nice job with this group despite the current losing skid. With a healthy Dosunmu, taking the Illini and the points wouldn't be a bad move. Even if Jones is still out for the Lions, though, this is a team playing its best basketball. So the Illini's losing streak will likely extend to five.

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