Penn State vs. Minnesota Preview
Coming off of a dominant victory over Northwestern, the Penn State Nittany Lions (15-15, 6-11 Big Ten) will look to play spoiler on Sunday as they wrap up the regular season on the road against a Minnesota Golden Gophers team (18-12, 7-10 Big Ten) sitting squarely on the bubble.
Minnesota’s NCAA Tournament resume rests on its high-profile wins over Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, but Rich Pitino’s squad has lost seven of its last 10 and certainly can’t afford to drop one to Penn State; a 7-11 conference record would make it nearly impossible for the Gophers to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
The Nittany Lions won’t be headed to the NCAA Tournament, but they are trying to work their way onto the NIT bubble. Penn State has gone 6-5 since beginning Big Ten play with six straight losses, but the Nittany Lions would need a win over Minnesota and at least one victory in the Big Ten Tournament to clinch an above-.500 record and gain consideration for the NIT.
When Penn State and Minnesota met on January 8th in State College, Pat Chambers’ squad never trailed after halftime until there were two minutes to go, but with Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill both riding the bench after fouling out, the Gophers overtook the Nittany Lions late and held on for a 68-65 victory.
Newbill posted one of the worst games of his career on that night by going scoreless and fouling out in just 14 minutes of playing time, but the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer has been red hot of late, averaging 19.4 points per game in his last five contests.
Andre Hollins has been pacing Minnesota by netting 14.6 points per game on the year, but it’s been Austin Hollins (no relation) who has been carrying the scoring load of late. Last week, Austin poured in 27 points in the Gophers’ win over Iowa and led the way with 16 in a loss to Michigan.
Minnesota will come into Sunday’s match-up with Penn State feeling very well-rested, as they haven’t played since last Saturday. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, have just two days between games and are 1-8 in their last nine games in which they’ve had two or less days to prepare.
In order to pull off the upset on Sunday, Penn State will need another well-balanced effort like it had against Northwestern in which all five starters converted at least three field goals and shot 50% or better from the floor. In addition, John Johnson will need to continue providing some scoring punch off the bench; the streaky shooter is now 7-for-10 from the field in his last two games.
Elliot Eliason posed match-up problems for the Nittany Lions in the teams’ prior meeting, as the 6-11 center posted 11 points and 12 rebounds. However, Eliason has reached double figures in either of those categories just once since then. Jordan Dickerson, who has seen an uptick in minutes lately due to Donovon Jack’s recent struggles (especially from beyond the arc, where Jack is in a 2-for-24 shooting slump), will be charged with the task of dealing with Eliason.
Minnesota’s volatile three-point shooting has been a key factor in its wins and losses over its last five games. The Gophers shot 17-for-33 (58%) from beyond the arc in their two wins during that stretch but sank just 13 of their 60 three-point tries (22%) in their three losses. Penn State, though, comes in with the Big Ten’s worst three-point defense, which could spell trouble for the Nittany Lions if they allow Minnesota’s three-point shooters to find their shooting stroke.
Bradford Conners is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Phil Constantino is a junior from Farmingdale, NY majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. Phil is also the website and social media director at ComRadio, and one of the station’s feature broadcasters.
Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Actuarial Science
In addition to his work as a broadcaster, beat writer, talk show host, and bracketologist for ComRadio, Bradford has completed production internships with the sports department of NBC 10 in Philadelphia and the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics Video Department, in addition to a writing internship with Whiztix, a ticket-comparison site. He is currently interning with ESPN Radio 1450 AM in State College where he serves as a color commentator for State College Area High School baseball games and assists with the production of Penn State baseball broadcasts.
Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Marketing
Currently, Feldman is an executive producer, reporter and anchor for the Centre County Report, as well as ComRadio’s senior sports director. He also is the host of the Penn State Coaches Show featuring Guy Gadowsky, which airs live from Lettermans on ESPN Radio 1450 and GoPSUSports.com every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Additionally, he was the first to report the hiring of Joe Moorhead as Penn State football’s new offensive coordinator on December 12, 2015.
He’s a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism within the College of Communications and enrolled in the Smeal College of Business.
Feldman, a Pittsburgh native, has broadcasted sporting events from a number of international and professional venues, including Estadio Latinoamericano in Cuba, Madison Square Garden, CONSOL Energy Center, Wells Fargo Center, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, and EverBank Field.
Last spring, he traveled with the Penn State men’s volleyball team as their play-by-play man, announcing his very first NCAA tournament matches at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
He has gained valuable broadcasting and reporting experience interning and working at WTAJ-TV, MLB Network, GoPSUSports.com, 105.9 The X, 970 AM ESPN, Big Ten Network Student U, and State College’s ESPN Radio 1450.
Feldman has a strong passion for sports and dreams to become a sports anchor/reporter in a national market and/or a hockey play-by-play announcer.
Senior / Economics and Communication Arts and Sciences
Uriah Tagle is a senior from Honesdale, PA, double majoring in Economics and Communication Arts and Sciences. He is one of ComRadio’s Production Directors, a talk show host, and beat writer.