Big Ten Tournament Preview: No. 10 Penn State vs No. 7 Minnesota

Story posted March 14, 2019 in CommRadio, Sports by Jack McCune

Jake Starr, Trent Fye, Matt McClure, and Jeremy Ganes preview Penn State's Big Ten tournament game:

The Penn State Nittany Lions (14-17, 7-13) take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-12, 9-11) in the second round of the 2019 Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago Thursday night. Minnesota is probably safe to make the NCAA Tournament even with a loss, but Penn State is hot, winning six of its last eight regular season games. Minnesota, on the other hand, is not, finishing the regular season on a 3-7 slide. A dominant win by the Nittany Lions could put the Golden Gophers back into the bubble watch.

In their only regular-season matchup this season back in January, the Nittany Lions got up to a 38-30 lead at halftime, but forward Lamar Stevens’s 27 points were not enough to give them the victory as he missed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to give the Gophers the victory, 65-64 over the Lions. Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy put up 19 points and a tied his career high in rebounds with 21.

Although they have struggled over their recent stretch of games, the Gophers still feel confident heading into this matchup, especially with a recent upset victory against the then 11th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Guard Amir Coffey averaged over 28 points per game in the last three games of the regular season, and Murphy’s 11.7 rebounds per game is tied for fourth-highest in the country and highest in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions are currently one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and are poised to pull off the upset Thursday. Victories against then-No. 17 Maryland and then-No. 6 Michigan highlight Penn State’s successful run to end the regular season and earn a bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Guard Josh Reeves put up 26 points on six 3-pointers in the regular season finale against Illinois. Forward Lamar Stevens averaged over 22 points during the hot streak.

The two teams match up well against each other. Minnesota averages 71.2 points per game, just above Penn State’s average at 69.6. The teams’ 3-point percentages are nearly identical, and the Nittany Lions are slightly better at free-throw shooting. Both teams will have to emphasize their strengths and hide their weaknesses to gain the edge in their upcoming matchup. The Gophers are strong on the glass, as they average 37.5 rebounds per game, the fourth best in the Big Ten, so they will try to take advantage of extra possessions. They are also good at getting to the charity stripe as they have the second most free throw attempts in the conference. Penn State’s offense has struggled to gel at times, as they are second-to-last in field goal percentage and dead last in assists in the Big Ten, but they average nearly three more steals per game than Minnesota, so they will attempt to convert off of forced turnovers.

It’s commonplace for the hotter team, rather than the better team, to win this time of year. Expect Penn State’s Stevens and Reaves to put up enough points and keep Minnesota’s Amir Coffey to a quieter performance to lead the Nittany Lions to a close victory over the Golden Gophers.

Final score prediction: Penn State wins 73-68



Jack McCune is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at

About the Contributors

Matthew McClure's photo

Matthew McClure

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

With his hard-work and dedication to excellence, Matthew McClure looks to achieve future goals in sports broadcasting. He is from Glenmoore, Pennsylvania and a senior broadcast journalism major at Pennsylvania State University. He has experience working in sports and is willing to work outside his comfort zone. Matthew served as an active member at CommRadio, where he performed many different play by play broadcasts, wrote articles, and is a host of his NBA talk radio show Half Court. The past two summers, Matthew moved to Florida to work as an communications intern at the Florida Collegiate Summer Baseball League. There, he broadcasted every game for the Seminole County Scorpions, and was presented with the Sara Whiting Young Professionals Award.

Jake Starr's photo

Jake Starr

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Jake Starr is a soon-to-be graduate from Penn State. He has spent the last year and a half as the general manager of CommRadio, where he helped oversee all seven departments and over 200 members. Prior to that, Jake worked as the station’s news director. In addition, he is a play-by-play broadcaster with experience calling nine sports across various outlets. In addition to calling games for CommRadio, Jake has called games for Big Ten Plus and ESPN+ for Bucknell University. For the last two summers, he has worked in summer collegiate baseball. Most recently, Jake served as a broadcaster for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. You can follow Jake on Twitter @jstarr1999 and email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

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Jeremy Ganes

Senior / Journalism

Jeremy Ganes is an aspiring sports broadcaster and journalist at Penn State. He writes articles, produces broadcasts, and announces games for the CommRadio sports department. He also co-hosts an NFL-focused talk show called 4th & Long that airs live on CommRadio, alongside DJ Bauer. In addition to CommRadio content, Jeremy also assists in production and serves as an on-air personality to the PSNtv show Penn State Sports Night, where he covers sports such as baseball and football. He is also a reporter and producer for the Centre County Report. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).