Penn State vs. Utah odds: 2018 NIT Championship Game picks from model on 16-8 run

A new NIT champion is ready to be crowned on Thursday when Penn State battles Utah Utes at 7 p.m. ET. Penn State rolls into the NIT Championship Game after dispatching Mississippi State 75-60, while Utah slid past Western Kentucky 69-64. Both have won the NIT once before: the Nittany Lions in 2009 and the Utes way back in 1947.

Penn State opened as a three-point favorite and is now laying four. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas believes will be scored, opened at 135, but has dipped to 134.5.

Before picking either side, you need to see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say. This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is on a blistering 16-8 streak picking college basketball games.

Now, the computer has examined every matchup, every player and every trend for Penn State vs. Utah. We can tell you it's leaning toward the under and it's also locked in a very strong against-the-spread pick that hits in almost 70 percent of simulations. It's a coveted A-rated pick that the model is highly confident in.

The model knows Penn State will cover the spread if star guard Tony Carr continues his torrid scoring during the NIT. The sophomore is averaging 23.3 points over his last three games and is lights-out from the free-throw line in that span -- 25 for 28.

The Lions boast a top-50 defense that allows 66.7 points per game for the year, but during the NIT they are yielding only 65. Utah prefers to compete at a deliberate pace, which plays right into the Lions' strength.

But Utah can cover the spread, or win outright, by limiting Penn State's second-chance points. The Utes are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and must keep 6-foot-8 forward Lamar Stevens off the boards.

The Nittany Lions lost their leading rebounder, Mike Watkins, during the regular season and have felt his loss in the postseason. The Utes' best man on the boards, 6-foot-10 senior Tyler Rawson, will need a mammoth game to keep Utah in contention.

So which side of Penn State vs. Utah do you need to be all over? Visit SportsLine now to check out the top-rated against-the-spread pick that hits almost 70 percent of the time, all from the computer model on a stellar 16-8 run.

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