Game Preview: Men’s Basketball vs. Iowa
Logan Bourandas and analysts Danny Murray and Andrew Field dive into Penn State's upcoming matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes:
No. 16 Penn State (21-7, 11-6) and No. 18 Iowa (19-9, 10-7) face off for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon in Iowa. Previously, the two teams faced off in at the Palestra in Philadelphia, a neutral sight, and Penn State got the win 89-86 in a back and forth, hard fought battle.
Penn State is coming off of a win against Rutgers in dramatic fashion. Myles Dread sunk a triple in the final seconds to lift the Nittany Lions over the Scarlett Knights 65-64. Iowa is fresh off of a 78-70 loss to Michigan State.
As Maryland just keeps on winning, both Penn State and Iowa’s chances of winning the Big Ten regular season title are beginning to look slim. However, both teams still have a golden opportunity at the coveted double-bye in the Big Ten tournament. The winner of this game could very well be the team that ultimately secures it.
This is essentially a must win for both teams.
Keys to the Game for Penn State
The number one lingering key for the Nittany Lions to win this game is once again, the status of Myreon Jones and his fight with an undisclosed illness.
When Penn State and Iowa faced off earlier this season, Penn State scored 89 points - the second largest point total they’ve scored in a conference game all season. Myreon Jones, Penn State’s second leading scorer on the season scored only five, which is tied for his season low.
The Nittany Lions could look at that as a plus, considering they beat a tough Hawkeyes team without a large contribution from their most consistent second option. But the thing is, Jones’ impact for the Nittany Lions goes beyond paper.
Jones has taken major strides this season and has really proven to be an essential cog on both ends of the floor for Penn State. Jones is the team’s second leading scorer behind Lamar Stevens and has the highest percentage on the team from beyond the arc at 41%. Jones spreads the floor and can also play at the rim too. Stevens is the superstar, but Myreon Jones provides an extra element on offense that makes Penn State so much harder to combat.
On defense, he locks down on the perimeter, creates steals and also opens up the floor and makes Penn State a lot harder to defend in transition. Say Jones doesn’t play, there are plenty more guards on the Nittany Lions who are capable of producing at a high level. But they’ve show inconsistencies. In this game, if Jones can’t go, Myles Dread, Izaiah Brockington, Curtis Jones Jr. and Seth Lundy must bring their A-game.
Penn State is a team whose success can be simplified down to some very simple concepts. The Nittany Lions have the talent, depth, firepower and are going to bring it defensively every game, allowing them to compete with just about anyone.
Winning the battle on the boards will be key as well. The Nittany Lions are 15-1 when they outrebound opponents this season.
Finally, down low, it’s going to be crucial that Mike Watkins and John Harrar at least contain Luka Garza, unlike in their last matchup where Garza scored 34 points and had 12 rebounds.
Keys to the Game for Iowa
In a conference full of incredibly talented big men, Garza is arguably the best. Garza has an argument to make for being the best player in the entire country. A legitimate National Player of the Year candidate, Garza averages 23.6 points and 9.6 rebounds this season, and dominated Watkins the last time these two teams met.
If Garza is able to replicate that performance, dominating on defense and taking away Penn State’s offense in the paint, it could spell trouble for a Nittany Lions team whose halfcourt offense has been inconsistent at times and has especially struggled as of late.
Lastly, the Hawkeyes need to defend their home court and not allow a slip up. Iowa has been extremely difficult to beat at home this season. Penn State, on the other hand, has been notorious for beating teams who are difficult to beat at home.
Iowa is 15-2 overall at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and a perfect 8-0 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes are streaking, too. Iowa has won its last 12 home games, scoring an average of 81.9 points while giving up 65.9.
It was deemed impossible to win on the road in the Big Ten this season, but Penn State hasn’t stepped down from that challenge. In fact, it has risen up to the occasion more times than not. Penn State is one of only two teams in the Big Ten with a winning road record (5-4).
Riding some momentum after their last-minute victory vs. Rutgers, the Nittany Lions are too good of a team and are due to get back on track. A big road win versus the Hawkeyes would fit the story of this season for Penn State quite nicely.
Prediction: Penn State 78, Iowa 75
Zach Donaldson is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Andrew Field is a junior from Haverford, Pennsylvania which is actually right outside of Philly in the land of “Delco”. He is a huge Philly sports fan as he has a passion and excitement for all four Philly teams and also all Penn State sports. He writes articles for the sports and arts and entertainment departments. He also works with the Ad/Sales team and has a weekly talk show called, “Broad Street Bros”. He hopes to one day work in the sports industry or become a writer.
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism