Game Preview: Penn State vs. Michigan State
On Wednesday night, the Penn State Nittany Lions men’s basketball team prepares to take on the Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. This is one of the toughest matchups that the Nittany Lions will have to face this year, as the Spartans are ranked 5th in the latest national rankings and 3rd in the Big Ten Conference standings with an overall record of 20-3. Michigan State has 13-1 record at home and is currently on a 4-game winning streak. Penn State, who is tied for 6th in the Big Ten standings, is also on a winning streak of their own, winning their last 2 games against Ohio State and Rutgers, to improve their overall record to 15-8.
In order for the Nittany Lions to pull off another upset on a ranked opponents court and win another Big Ten conference game, they will need to rely on production from the 2nd leading scorer in the Big Ten, Tony Carr who has averaged 19.2 points per game. Penn State will also need Mike Watkins to control the paint against the tough Spartan post players, and Josh Reaves to bring his defensive energy that has provided sparks of energy in the last two Penn State victories. Watkins is currently 2nd in the Big Ten in rebounds and blocks, averaging 10.1 rebounds per game and 2.9 blocks per game. Reaves leads the conference in steals per game, averaging 2.3 steals. The Nittany Lions will need to have a great day shooting the ball from behind the 3-point line in order to have an opportunity at winning this game.
The Spartans will look to lean on sophomore Miles Bridges, who is the 3rd leading scorer in the Big Ten with 17.6 points per game, as well as the Big Ten assist leader Cassius Winston who averages 6.9 assists per game. Michigan State also has two studs in the post in Nick Ward, who shoots 69 percent from the field and averages 7.9 boards a game, and the Big Ten’s leading blocker Jaren Jackson Jr. who averages 3.4 blocks per game. The Nittany Lions will definitely have their hands full in controlling the rebounding game and trying to score in the paint with these two giants standing in their way. On top of all the talent, Michigan State has an extremely experienced coach in Tom Izzo, who is in his 23rd year as head coach with the Spartans and has made the NCAA Tournament a Big Ten-record 20 straight times.
If the Nittany Lions have any chance to make the NCAA Tournament this year, a win at East Lansing against the Spartans would be a real résumé booster. The Spartans will try to make sure that does not happen and that they continue to win so they can get a top seed come March. This should be a fun matchup to watch as two hot teams face off in a Big Ten conference game. The game between these two land-grant schools will tip off Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. live on the Big Ten Network.
Trevor Palfey is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.