Penn State Basketball Weekly Preview: Two Ranked Opponents on Deck for Nittany Lions
The packed schedule the Nittany Lions had to deal with last week is over, but that doesn’t mean the road gets any easier. Penn State will have two games this week, both against ranked opponents. But what helps is that the Nittany Lions are coming into this week hot.
Following a second loss to Illinois, Penn State won two games in a row, defeating both Rutgers and Northwestern.
The Rutgers game featured a balanced scoring attack, as Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones led the way with 17 points each, while Seth Lundy had 16.
Both Lundy and John Harrar recorded double-digit rebounds as well in the win, as the Nittany Lions dominated that category 40-27. Rutgers was coming into the game on a four-game losing streak after previously being 6-0. Penn State would ultimately win the game with a 75-67 final.
The Nittany Lions stayed at home for a matchup with another struggling team in Northwestern. This game would prove to be a lot closer than the Rutgers game, as it would not be decided until the final shot, which was a missed 3-pointer by Chase Audige that would’ve tied the game.
Brockington led the way with 21 points, which included a perfect 9-for-9 on free throws. Fouls would be a big story in this one as, unlike previous games this season, the Nittany Lions went to the free-throw line 26 times, converting 20.
Interim head coach Jim Ferry and his team will head to Columbus next to face No. 13 Ohio State on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in a game that was originally slated for Jan. 6 but was postponed due to Penn State’s positive COVID-19 tests.
The Nittany Lions originally planned to play the Wolverines at home Wednesday, but the University of Michigan has temporarily shut down all athletic programs due to its own coronavirus issues. On Sunday afternoon, it was decided that the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions would play instead.
The Buckeyes have seen themselves in and out of the AP Poll this season, but they’re coming off a 74-62 win at No. 10 Wisconsin, in which sophomore forward E.J. Liddell put up 20 points and 10 boards. Ohio State’s tallest starter stands 6 feet 8 inches, while the Badgers have two players three inches taller, so height is not a pressing issue for the Buckeyes.
Neither is much else. The Buckeyes feature the conference’s fifth-highest offensive rating and fourth-highest defense. But they shoot a lot of 3-pointers, and the Nittany Lions rank first in the Big Ten in 3-point defense.
Ohio State also tends to rely on second chances often, as the Buckeyes average the fewest assists per game at 12.7. If Penn State forward John Harrar can hold his ground down low, he could limit the Ohio State attack tremendously.
The Nittany Lions will then head back home Saturday to take on the 6-3 Badgers at 3 p.m. Wisconsin doesn’t feature the most reliable offensive game, averaging fewer points per game than Penn State by four, but the defense is among the best in the country, allowing the fewest points per game in the conference at 62.2.
Although the Badgers will have a clear height advantage with seniors Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers each at 6 feet 11 inches, it shouldn’t affect Penn State’s offense tremendously. Harrar and company hold the conference’s highest offensive boards per game margin at 13.3.
Regardless of the matchups, the next stretch of games could make or break the Nittany Lions’ season.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Jack McCune is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Yardley, Pennsylvania, which is outside of Philly and just across the Delaware River from New Jersey. He attended Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. He’s a huge fan of the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, Penn State football and Penn State basketball. He’s a sports anchor and multimedia reporter for the Centre County Report. He’s a Football Insider for CommRadio. His talk show, Broad Street Bros, airs Thursday nights at 5:45, as he talks about Philly and Penn State sports. He hopes to some day become a play-by-play announcer for football, basketball and/or baseball, and he is also interested in becoming a bartender.
Third-Year / Broadcast Journalism