MBB: Penn State vs. Purdue Game Preview

Audio/Story posted February 16, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by By Trevor Palfey

This Sunday night, coach Pat Chambers will take his red-hot Penn State Nittany Lion men’s basketball team into the home court of coach Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers.  This has been a daunting task for any opposing coach throughout the year as Purdue has only lost one game at home this whole regular season.  The Nittany Lions are riding high on confidence after a 23-point rout of the eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, and they will look to carry the momentum into this game against a sixth-ranked Purdue who has lost three straight games.  Penn State comes into the game with an overall record of 19-9, while Purdue comes into it with a record of 23-5.

There are three main keys to this game for the Nittany Lions in order for them to be able to pull off the upset in West Lafayette.  One major key is to be able to hold the Boilermakers under their above 80 points per game average.  In every single one of Purdue’s five losses this year, they were unable to reach the 80-point mark.  This means that Penn State must rely on Josh Reaves and Jamari Wheeler to both provide a defensive spark of energy when they are on the court.  Reaves and Wheeler are both ranked within the top five in the Big Ten in steals, with Reaves leading the conference with 2.3 steals per game.  Another key is to get production from the 6'5 sophomore guard, Tony Carr.  Carr is second in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 19.2 points per game, and he is also within the top five in the conference for assists with 4.9 assists per game.  Mike Watkins is the third and final key needed for Penn State to be successful.  They will need to find ways to get the ball to Watkins off of pick and rolls as well as alley-oops because Watkins is extremely efficient from the field shooting 70.1 percent, which is one of the nation’s top fivefield goal percentages.

The Boilermakers will look to continue to do what they have done all season and get back on the winning track by playing solid team basketball.  They currently have three different players, Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas, averaging around 15 points a game.  They also have another player in Dakota Mathias who scores about 12 points a game.  They do not rely too much on any single player to do all the work, instead they share the wealth and all can score.  They all average around the same number of rebounds as well, which means that they are well coached and all crash the glass on every shot.  This winning formula is the reason that Purdue has been so successful most of this year and will most likely be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Both of these teams need these wins for completely different reasons.  The Nittany Lions need a win in order to boost their résumé and keep their dreams of dancing in the NCAA Tournament alive.  On the other hand, the Boilermakers need this win to make sure they will have a high seed come March.  This is sure to be a scrappy conference battle as the end of the regular season nears and the Big Ten Tournament is right around the corner.  The Penn State Nittany Lions and Purdue Boilermakers will tip off Sunday night at 8 p.m. inside Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana live on the Big Ten Network.

Trevor Palfey is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tgp5065@psu.edu.