Penn State Gears Up for Semifinal Matchup Against Indiana
With two wins in the 2023 Big Ten Tournament, Penn State has found itself in the semifinals for the first time since 2018 when the Nittany Lions face the Indiana Hoosiers from the United Center on Saturday afternoon.
Penn State is coming off of two close wins in the Windy City, with a 79-76 victory over No. 7 seed Illinois and a 67-65 overtime win over No. 2 seed Northwestern.With those wins, the Nittany Lions now have won seven of their last eight games.
For Penn State, the team shot over 35% from 3-point land and over 40% from the floor in both tournament games. The needed games to help bolster their NCAA Tournament resume has provided a spark for the team.
One of those sparks comes from senior guard Andrew Funk, who is averaging double figures in Chicago, with 20 and 14 points, respectively. This comes from his 50% shooting and 53% shooting from beyond the arc in the Big Ten Tournament.
Along with Funk, seniors Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy have contributed in big ways for head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s squad. Both of them have also scored in double figures for the Nittany Lions, with Lundy able to find his shot on the interior.
They look ahead to their matchup with Indiana with a duo of their own in forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino. The freshman guard in Hood-Schifino ended his season on a high note, scoring 10+ points in seven of his last eight games to add to the 20-plus-point performances that Jackson-Davis had in seven of his last nine games of the regular season.
That stretch has translated to Chicago. In the Hoosiers’ 70-60 win in the Quarterfinals against No. 6 seed Maryland, the duo combined for 43 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists to open up postseason play.
These two teams faced off once in the regular season, with Penn State running away with the win 85-66 at home on Jan. 11. Indiana’s duo combined for 25 points, but it was no match for the Nittany Lions as Lundy and Funk opened up from downtown and went a combined 14-24 from the 3-point line and had 25 and 23 points respectively.
Indiana may use that as bulletin board material, and based on recent track records, this is a completely different Hoosiers squad from that Jan. 11 night. Senior forward Race Thompson did not play at the Bryce Jordan Center due to injury, along with guard Xavier Johnson. Thompson is back in the lineup which gives Indiana some help, but still no Johnson.
If Penn State limits that duo, the Nittany Lions have a good shot at punching their ticket to the Big Ten Championship. If not, it may be time to start thinking about the Big Dance.
Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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