Penn State Men’s Basketball Preview vs. Michigan

Story posted January 28, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Jon Draeger

The Penn State Nittany Lions head back home to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday at noon to get revenge on the Michigan Wolverines from earlier this season.

In the annual THON Game, Penn State looks to get back into the win column after a 20-point loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Tuesday. The blue and white’s main offensive method of the 3-point shot fell flat on its face after the team shot a season-worst 15.4% from downtown.

On the flip side for Rutgers, coach Steve Pikiell’s team had their way in the interior, posting 34 points in the paint alone to go along with their 65 points. Not only did the majority come from the low block, but the Scarlet Knights found success on the charity stripe, going 15-19 on free throws.

Now after the quick road trip to Jersey Mike’s Arena, Penn State looks to right the ship in Happy Valley. Based on their season, home is where they find success.

In the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State has gone 10-1 this season, with their lone loss coming against the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten opener. Their home performance has the Nittany Lions posting 77.9 points per game while shooting 48.7% from the floor and 41.2% from beyond the arc.

Back in Ann Arbor in early January, Penn State fell flat in the shooting department in the second half. Compared to a 37.5% clip from the arc, coach Micah Shrewberry’s squad dropped to 25% from downtown and fell to the Wolverines 79-69.

Leading the charge last time out for coach Juwan Howard’s squad was center Hunter Dickinson with 17 points on 6-10 shooting with six rebounds. A plethora of guards scored in double figures as well to aid Dickinson and lead the Wolverines past Penn State.

Some keys for Penn State involve two things: depth scoring and discipline.

In conference play, the points off the bench have been hit or miss, with an average of 11.7 points per game coming from substitutes. But it’s not only just the bench, some of the starters have found themselves hot or cold.

Guard Camren Wynter has averaged 6.1 points per game in the Big Ten while shooting 38.3% from the floor and 30% from 3-point land. Forward Kebba Njie has struggled on the floor as a starter with 1.3 points per game in conference play while shooting 30% and 2.2 rebounds in only 14.3 minutes per game.

The reason for his small amount of minutes involves fouling. Since conference play has started, opponents in the Big Ten have gone to the free-throw line an average of 17 times per game. To put this into perspective, Penn State has made it to the charity stripe around 10 times per game.

Those are free points at the line, and it can be the difference in a game with how gritty and close the Big Ten is. If Penn State manages to get both depth scoring and limits their fouling, they could get a potential statement win.

Another key could be guard Jett Howard of Michigan sitting out Sunday due to an ankle injury. This season, the 6-foot-8 freshman has averaged 14.6 points per game and shooting 39% from three.

Last time out, Howard dropped 14 points and seven rebounds in the 10-point victory against Penn State. His absence could be a major difference between a win and a loss for the Wolverines.

Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email