Penn State vs. Michigan Preview

Story posted December 31, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Alissa Devine

With a disappointing loss this past Wednesday night against No. 4 Maryland, Penn State faces heads up north to face Michigan to open up the New Year this Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Nittany Lions played a noteworthy game Wednesday night, losing to the No. 4 ranked team 70-64. With a lead over Maryland for the majority of the night, the Nittany Lions came up just short of an upset victory after a late Terrapin rally. Late in the game, Penn State allowed 24 points while only scoring six of their own, which proved to be the difference.

The Nittany Lions look to bounce back against a skilled Michigan team. Although Michigan isn’t ranked, the Wolverines will also be a challenge for the Nittany Lions. Michigan is riding a five game winning streak defeating Illinois on Wednesday. In addition, they have won nine of their last 10 games. 

For the Wolverines, their strengths lie in their aggressive offensive play. The threesome of Caris LeVert, Zak Davis and Derrick Walton Jr. give the Wolverines a top offense to contend with. LeVert has established himself as an experienced leader and provides a spark to this Michigan team, having another outstanding game against Illinois. LeVert finished with a double-double, with 22 points and 10 assists, and has scored in double figures in 13 of his 14 games this season. Walton Jr. is another strength as his ball handling skills and driving ability creates even more options for the Wolverines offensively. With these three playing their best, they are a definite threat to Penn State defensively.

Penn State should also look out for Mark Donnal, who had a break out game against Illinois Wednesday. Donnal had a career night with 26 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, and 28 minutes.

Penn State’s defense has been the key to their success this season. For instance, the Nittany Lions have held five of their past six opponents to under 38 percent shooting from the field. Wednesday night, the Blue and White were able to hold Maryland to 19 of 57 (33.3 percent) from the field. The Nittany Lions will need to hold Michigan to these same statistics to win their first Big Ten matchup of the season.

Penn State’s grinding and hardworking mentality has led to a better performance this season than expected. However, the Nittany Lions cannot lose that mentality late in the game, as they did against the Terrapins. In order to obtain their first Big Ten victory, the Blue and White will look to their frontcourt to provide a spark. Brandon Taylor has been the most consistent player on this team, as Taylor had another double-double against the Terrapins.

Coming off of a tough loss to Maryland and with a challenging stretch of conference games for Penn State, the Blue and White look to capitalize Saturday. Tip-off is set for noon at the Crisler Center.

Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email alissadevine96@gmail.com