Penn State Basketball Weekly Preview: Nittany Lions Head into Big Ten Tournament
The final two games of the regular season were special for Penn State, as the Nittany Lions went 2-0 on the week.
The first victory was an emotion-riddled senior night on Wednesday at the BJC. The team’s five seniors—John Harrar, Jamari Wheeler, Trent Buttrick, Taylor Nussbaum and Kyle McCloskey—got the start against Minnesota after a COVID-19-friendly celebration; the players received their blue robes in front of family members in the stands.
And with some help from juniors Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington, the seniors crushed the Golden Gophers 84-65. Minnesota was missing its 7-foot center Liam Robbins due to an ankle injury, which made Harrar the tallest player on the court.
Harrar recorded his fifth double-double of the season, and Wheeler recorded 10 points, but it was Buttrick who led the seniors in scoring with 13. His fast-break two-handed slam off a steal from Wheeler with about a minute to go electrified the Penn State bench as Ferry took his seniors out at the next stoppage. He shared a five-second hug with Harrar as the Nittany Lions celebrated the victory.
Up next was Maryland on Sunday night as Penn State ended its regular season in College Park with a 66-61 come-from-behind win against the Terrapins. After scoring just 10 points in his last four games, sophomore forward Seth Lundy put up 31 for his first 30-burger since Dec. 2 against VCU.
The Blue and White desperately needed Lundy in the first half when they were down 33-23 at the break; he had 14 of their points. Lundy helped his squad climb the ladder after halftime when they took their first lead of the game at 58-57 on a jump stop shot in the paint with just 1:28 left in the game. After a defensive stop, Lundy then sealed the victory on the next possession with a wide-open 3-pointer on the right wing: his fifth of the game.
This week marks the start of the Big Ten tournament and for the Nittany Lions. They will be matched up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first round. Penn State was given the No. 11 seed and were a tiebreaker with Indiana away from getting a first-round bye.
This will be the third time this season Penn State and Nebraska will face off. The previous two games came down to one possession and were split with Nebraska winning the first matchup and Penn State taking the second.
The main difference with this matchup is that the Cornhuskers will be without Teddy Allen. Allen was the star in both games against Penn State, as he hit the game-winner in game one and scored 41 points in the game two loss. Allen left the team about a week ago after what was reported by head coach Fred Hoiberg as a wrist injury.
If Penn State can pull off a win against Nebraska, it will face Wisconsin in the second round: the same Badgers whom the Nittany Lions upset a few weeks ago.
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.