Penn State at Indiana Preview
After a tough loss to Nebraska this past Saturday, January 19, the Nittany Lions fell to 8-10 (0-6 Big Ten), leaving them as the only team in the conference without a Big Ten win. And despite some much improved play over their last two games, Penn State’s search for a conference victory will only get tougher this Wednesday night in Assembly Hall vs. Indiana.
The number seven ranked Hoosiers stand at 16-2 (4-1 Big Ten) and are coming off a strong road win at Northwestern this past Sunday after suffering their first conference loss in the previous game vs. Wisconsin.
When these two teams faced each other on January 7 at the Bryce Jordan Center, the high powered Indiana attack proved to be too much for the Nittany Lions to handle. In that game, the Hoosiers saw four of their five starters score in double digits, as the team shot an impressive 52.4% from the field while also pouring in eight three-pointers. And though the shooting numbers might not show it, the Hoosiers truly didn’t play their best game.
In that game Indiana committed a season-high 17 turnovers, in addition to only out-rebounding Penn State by one. But, in the end the experience and overall talent of the Hoosier team proved to be too much as they won rather easily versus a lesser Penn State team.
The Nittany Lions, in the first matchup, shot a poor 31.7% from field while also getting out shot by the Hoosiers from the free throw line 34 to 11. DJ Newbill, the Nittany Lions sophomore point guard, shot well below his season averages as he went 3 for 15 in the game with 8 points.
In their second matchup, the Nittany Lions are going to face quite the uphill battle if they have any hopes of beating the Hoosiers in a huge upset. The Nittany Lions are shooting 39.3% on the season Penn State, which ranks them 318th in the country. If they have any hopes of winning they are going to need to shoot a much higher percentage than that and get big games out of their leading scorers DJ Newbill and Jermaine Marshall who combined for only 19 points the first time these teams met, well below their combined average of 30.5 point per game. In addition to those two the Nittany Lions will need a third scorer to step up much the way Ross Travis did in the first game, when he scored a team high 14 points.
As for Indiana, they just need to continue to do what they have done all season which is score points. The Hoosiers rank second in the country scoring 84.4 points per game, which is 22.2 points per game more than the Nittany Lions average. Each of Indiana’s top three scorers, Zeller, Oladipo and Watford scored double-digits in the first matchup and should expect to do much of the same Wednesday night.
While Cody Zeller is the star of the team, it was senior forward Christian Watford who was key for the Hoosiers in the first game. Leading the team in points and rebounds, Watford tallied 16 points and 8 rebounds and should expect much of the same this time around.
Even though in today’s college basketball an upset appears to be possible at any time, an upset this Wednesday night in Assembly Hall seems very unlikely. Indiana possesses strengths in the two areas Penn State is weakest, scoring and skilled big men.
Head Coach Patrick Chambers will have this Nittany Lion squad ready to go into Indiana and give them a fight, but much like first game that may not be enough. The Hoosiers, led by Coach Tom Crean, are a far superior team to the Nittany Lions and unless they play their worst game of the year they should win with ease.
Joe Garofalo is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.