Penn State Basketball Stock Report: Week 11

Story posted January 26, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Gross

With the Big Ten season now in full swing, the Nittany Lions have faced some of the stiffest competition in America. This past week alone, Pat Chambers’ crew went on the road at No. 21 Purdue and No. 15 Wisconsin - two of the toughest venues in the country - and lost. Regardless of the two outcomes, Penn State has some things going their way. 21 games into the season, here’s where their stock is.

Road Game Performance: Down

Back-to-back 20-plus point road losses mean that the Nittany Lions struggle on the road. However, this is to be expected from such a young squad. Time will tell if Penn State can improve in this category, but the past two games have not gone well. From the get-go, the Purdue match up was a blowout. It seemed as if the Lions could pull off an upset in Madison, but the game shifted after the first 20 minutes. After only trailing 36-33 at halftime versus Wisconsin, Penn State was outscored by 24 in the second half. It isn’t easy to win on the road in the Big Ten, but it’s a crucial hurdle that the Lions need to overcome.

Josh Reaves: Up

After missing much of the non-conference season with lower leg injury, the sophomore swingman has been a huge spark for Penn State. He’s averaging 8.3 points per game, while hauling in just under five boards per matchup. Reaves was the lone bright spot in the Lions’ 77-52 loss to Purdue, scoring 12 points on four three-pointers. Despite going 0-2 on threes against Wisconsin, Reaves’ confidence from beyond the arc is certainly on the upswing. Reaves is shooting just under 30 percent on threes for the season, but is 50 percent in the past two games. In addition to his perimeter play, Reaves continues to be aggressive when attacking the basket with his powerful and athletic dunks that fire up the crowd and his team. On defense, the 6-4 guard leads the conference with 2.4 steals per game. Despite missing five games, he also leads the conference in total steals with 39 on the year.

Postseason Hopes: Down

At 11-10 (3-5), the NCAA Tournament is out of the picture unless they can pull off a miracle and win the Big Ten tournament. There is still a chance that Penn State can qualify for the NIT though. If they can finish at .500 in conference play, the Nittany Lions would have a solid resume. With the team returning home on Saturday versus Illinois, the next few games will decide the postseason destination (if any) of this young team. Another potential, and more likely option, would be the College Basketball Invitational, or the CBI. Penn State accepted a bid to the CBI in 2014, losing to Siena in the quarterfinals. In 2015, the team was again offered a spot in the tournament, but rejected. A winning record would give the Lions some consideration for receiving a bid to the CBI, but they may reject it anyways. All in all, being in the bottom third of the Big Ten standings does not bode well for Penn State’s postseason hopes.

 

Jonathan Gross is a sophomore double-majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics. He can be reached at jwg5468@psu.edu.