MBB Preview: Indiana

Story posted January 9, 2018 in CommRadio, Sports by Patrick Murphy

On Tuesday night the Penn State Nittany Lion men’s basketball team travels to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Both teams enter the game with a record of 2-2 in conference.
The Hoosiers have had a bit of a rocky season thus far, and enter the game with an overall record of 9-7. Thus far, Hoosier fans have yet to see a consistent picture of what their team actually is. Some nights, the Hoosiers could go out and lose to Indiana State or Fort Wayne. Other nights, they could be the team that took down Notre Dame and Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions come into the contest after a rocky stretch that included an upset at home against Rider, and a hard-fought loss on the road against the Maryland Terrapins. The Nittany Lions managed to recover at home with a comfortable win over Northwestern to right the ship momentarily.

In a season of up and downs thus far, Juwan Morgan has been one of the only steady positives for the Hoosiers. Morgan is a 6’8 forward who rebounds well and can score equally well on the inside and outside. The Hoosiers have counted on him to be their main big, as well as a stretch forward at times, making him one of the more difficult players in the BIG 10 to gameplan for. With De’Ron Davis hurt, Mike Watkins would be the like for like matchup against Morgan in a man-to-man defense. However, with Watkins having to step away from the rim to deal with Morgan on the perimeter from time to time, Penn State would be leaving the paint exposed. It will be interesting to see if Penn State head coach Pat Chambers decides to put Lamar Stephens on Morgan instead, or opts to go with another defensive scheme.

Another interesting facet to this game will be the point guard matchup between Tony Carr and Josh Newkirk. Carr has been as good as advertised before the season thus far, while the same can’t be said for Newkirk. Newkirk has had his moments since arriving at Indiana but came up scoreless against Minnesota and Notre Dame, Indiana’s two biggest wins of the year thus far. He will certainly be looking to make a point in this game and prove his mettle against one of the best point guards the country has to offer.

Penn State comes into this game favored by Vegas by 1.5. Indiana had previously been the favorite, but the Davis injury likely played a role in that changing. After being carved up by Ethan Happ last week, the loss of the only true big man in the Indiana rotation could have serious consequences. If anybody is looking forward to playing in this game it’s Watkins, as the circumstances seem to be lining up for a dominant performance from him.
Both teams have stretches coming up against the mid to upper level of the Big 10, so both teams will certainly be looking to get an edge up on the number of other teams sitting in the middle of the pack at 2-2 in conference. The difference in conference standing that comes with a win vs. a loss will certainly be at the front of Chambers and Indiana head coach Archie Miller’s minds. Even this early in the season, this will be a critical conference matchup for both teams.

Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him,  email pqm5315@psu.edu.