Penn State looking to defeat Minnesota in opening round of Big Ten Tournament
This is March.
A common saying heard from basketball fans across the nation signifying that anything can happen during this time of the year. With upsets, buzzer-beaters and crazy games, March is filled with entertainment.
With that being said, Penn State dropped its last three games of the regular season which puts them at No. 11 in the Big Ten regular-season standings. This means that it must play on the first day of the Big Ten tournament.
It’ll be matched up against Minnesota, a familiar foe, whom they split with on the campaign. The recent matchup between the two displayed arguably Penn State’s best game all year winning by 21 points, the largest program win ever against Minnesota and its largest margin of victory this season.
If it beats Minnesota, it’ll move on to play against Ohio State. Already playing the Buckeyes twice this season, the Nittany Lions are familiar with their playstyle especially with former teammate Jamari Wheeler being their starting point guard.
While Ohio State is a big revenge opportunity, Minnesota is the first target.
Penn State has struggled all year on the road with its lone road win being against Northwestern. It is tough to say how they will play at a neutral location. They went 1-1 this year at the Emerald coast classic almost defeating LSU in overtime.
The Nittany Lions fought hard in their last game against Rutgers erasing a 15-point deficit to tie the game at 55 with five minutes to go. Unable to get a shot off in time, Penn State lost another close road game by one point.
Senior forward John Harrar will lead the way playing in his last ever Big Ten tournament as a Nittany Lion. He displays an effort that goes unmatched every night, having a double-double in five of his last seven games.
“We have to play our game. Minnesota has so much talent with Battle and Willis. We have to guard them and make sure they don’t get off against us,” Harrar said.
Harrar was named a consensus All-Big Ten Honorable Mention on Tuesday afternoon.
Penn State averages 20.4 seconds per possession making them the lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten. Who is just ahead of them? The Golden Gophers.
Minnesota averages 67.4 points per game and its scoring primarily comes from their starting five. It has six players averaging above seven points a game and after that, it drops off to Treyton Thompson, who averages only 1.9 points per game.
The duo of Jamison Battle and Payton Willis combine for almost half of its points every game. Last time against Penn State, Battle had 16 points, the only member of the team to reach double figures.
Eric Curry was the player of the game to give Minnesota the win at home against Penn State in its first meeting this season. He dropped a career-high 22 points, having his way in the paint all night.
They have a lot of talent, but the bench is where the Golden Gophers lack. According to Kenpom.com, they are ranked No. 354 in the nation in bench minutes per game. Their starters carry a heavy load and will need to be ready to play against a Penn State team that gives it its all every game.
These two teams met in 2019 at the Big Ten tournament resulting in a Minnesota Victory in an overtime battle. All-time Minnesota has a 4-0 advantage over Penn State in the Big Ten tournament, but that changes this year.
The Nittany Lions have a better team than their record shows and Shrewsberry will get his first playoff win as a head coach.
“It is your last game so if you aren’t giving it all then there is something wrong with you. I think we are ready and ready to go on a run,” Harrar said.
Penn State 65, Minnesota 51
Austin Groft is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com
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