Penn State vs. Iowa Preview

Story posted February 14, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Gilbert

Penn State men’s basketball will face 16th-ranked Iowa, on Saturday, in the Bryce Jordan Center. This meeting will be the only meeting between the two teams in the regular season.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a huge victory on the road, against Indiana, in which Tim Frazier hit the game-winning layup, propelling Penn State to their fourth conference victory.

The Lions are 4-8 in conference, and 13-12 overall, with six regular season games remaining. Among those six games, three are against ranked opponents, with the Big Ten tournament to follow. There is an extremely slim chance of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, if they manage to secure more quality wins down the stretch.

Iowa is having one of its best seasons in recent memory, and is coming off a convincing statement win against Michigan, where the Hawkeyes won on the road by 18 points. Star Roy Devyn Marble had 26 points in the win against the 10th-ranked team in the nation.

Fran McCaffery’s club has not been to the NCAA Tournament in eight years, but barring a collapse of epic proportions, the Hawkeyes will be dancing this March.

Marble and Aaron White are the stars of the squad, both averaging double-digit scoring. White is shooting nearly sixty percent from the field. Melsahn Basabe is the man down low, and could cause matchup problems for Penn State, particularly with the Nittany Lions four-guard set.

Penn State plays fearless, much like the Hawkeyes. They commit too many turnovers, and lack some talent in the frontcourt, but the guard play is solid and the stars aren’t afraid to have the ball in the last few minutes of the game. D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier have shown that time and time again. The problem with the Lions is too many turnovers, and they don’t pass the ball as well as coach Pat Chambers would like, ranking 249th in the country in assists.

Iowa also has great guard play. The Hawkeyes’ strengths include scoring in transition and attacking the basket on offense. They also get scoring from their bench, including Gabriel Olaseni who had 24 against Michigan off the bench.

Iowa and Penn State’s basketball programs have been very similar, although Iowa’s is a bit more advanced. Both teams have been bottom-feeders in the Big Ten, rarely making the NCAA Tournament, with the exception of Talor Battle putting the team on his back in 2011. But Penn State should look at Iowa and admire how they broke through this year in the Big Ten. They have some quality players in White and Marble, and are a dark horse to win a few games in March.

Penn State would love a victory against a ranked opponent, but the Hawkeyes are a tough team to beat. They play at different tempos, always mixing up the game speed, and have the star power to get it done. An upset at the Bryce Jordan Center would be just what the Lions need to boost their confidence during the crucial final push of the season, but it will be a daunting task, as Iowa has become one of the premier teams in the nation.

Mike Gilbert is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email michael.gilbertPSU@gmail.com.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)