15-15 overall, 6-10 conference, 8th Big Ten
Against the spread
13-9-1 (5-5-1 home, 6-4 away)
8-14-1 (6-5 home, 2-7-1 away)
2005 Season Summary
The Penn State basketball program basically had nowhere to go but up after a rock bottom 2004-05 season in which they went 7-23 straight up and 10-14-1 against the spread as the Nittany Lions covered just two of their final nine games against the spread to end the campaign in dismal fashion.
Nowhere to go but up
The good news for Penn State basketball was that after such a woeful season there was nowhere to go but up both on a straight up level but also against the spread as Penn State was not only one of the more anonymous big time college basketball programs in the country but also one of the most unappealing as their only basketball “tradition” was that of constant losing and while improvement was expected, so was another losing season. In gambling, the things that are the most unappealing often turn out to have the greatest value and Penn State faced that distinct possibility for the 2005-06 season.
Front loaded with cupcakes
In an effort to build up their record but also to build up confidence, Penn State’s preseason schedule was loaded withy cupcakes as they were often not on the board in non conference action for 2005-06.
In the season opener, which was on the board, Penn State beat Cornell 66-54 as 5-point home chalks. This was followed by back-to-back unlined home wins over Nicholls State and LIU Brooklyn. Back on the board against Clemson, Penn State lost at home 88-96 as 6-point dogs. This was followed by a 55-60 loss/cover at Texas A&M as 18-point dogs. Another unlined home win over UMKC was followed by an ugly 54-91 loss at Pittsburgh as 14.5-point dogs.
The Nittany Lions concluded non conference play with four consecutive unlined home wins over St. Francis-Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, IUPU-Ft. Wayne and Mount St. Mary’s as Penn State was 8-3 straight up and 2-2 against the spread entering Big Ten play.
Big Ten bargains
Penn State opened Big Ten Conference play with a most revealing 69-104 blowout loss at Ohio State as 17-point dogs. But the loss actually increased their value as Nittany Lions recovered to become brief Big Ten bargains. First was a 65-61 upset win at Northwestern as 9.5-point dogs. That was followed by a 76-80 loss/cover at home to Iowa as 7.5-point home dogs. Penn state then clobbered Purdue 74-54 as 5-point home chalks for their third consecutive cover.
Penn State had earned some grudging respect as a team that, at the very least, was more competitive than in the previous campaign and their value dropped as a result.
The problems began with a 64-75 home loss to Ohio State as 8-point home dogs and that was followed by an ugly 43-72 loss at Wisconsin as 15-point dogs. Penn State got the cash in their next game, a 60-69 loss at Michigan State a 18.5-point dogs. They next got a loss/push at home against Michigan 65-71 as 6-point home dogs and then scored a phenomenally huge and major upset at Illinois 66-65 as whopping 19.5-point dogs. There was an obvious hangover after the Illinois upset, however, as the Nittany Lions lost their next two games both straight up and against the spread at home to Minnesota and Wisconsin to complete a stretch in which they went 2-4-1 against the sportsbooks.
In the stretch run of the Big Ten race for first place, Penn State became forgotten bargains lost in the attention of the contending and more famous conference teams. They scored back-to-back wins and covers at home over Indiana and then at Purdue. They then got a loss/cover at Indiana before getting a win/cover over Northwestern in the home finale. The regular season finale was a 38-65 debacle at Iowa as 12.5-point dogs. Penn State covered both of their games in the Big Ten tourney before losing to Rutgers in the NIT 71-76 as 1-point home dogs as they covered 6 of their final 8 games.