Pennsylvania State Preview
Date: Friday, January 12th, 2017
Time: 6:00 pm CST
Location: College Station, PA
Mascot: Nittany Lions
Coach: Pat Chambers (7th Season)
2016-17 Record: 15-18 (6-12 Big Ten)
2017-18 Record: 12-6 (2-3 Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions have never been known as a Big Ten power and this season was no exception. They finished 12th in the conference with a couple of nice wins over the likes of Minnesota and Maryland, but nothing much else. They did, however, beat Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament which ended the Huskers season.
Penn State is currently tied for 9th place with Wisconsin in the conference. They are 2-3 with wins over struggling Northwestern and Iowa and losses to Indiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin. These, are also honestly their best wins. You might think differently looking at their schedule but I would tell you that you are wrong.
Sure, they’ve beaten teams like George Washington, George Mason, and Pittsburgh but all three of those teams are down this year and have losing records. Their major competition has all been Big Ten teams up to this point.
As for play, they fall right in the middle of just about every category this season. They’re not bad offensively or defensively but also not near the best either. It seems like they are somewhere around 5th or 10th best in everything from shooting, scoring, assists, and steals. There is nothing they do overly well or badly. At this point they are an average Big Ten team.
They come into this game with a 74-70 road loss to struggling Indiana. This along with a win against Nebraska were need by the Nittany Lions to keep any hopes for an NCAA Tournament birth alive. Now they really need to pull off this home win to further advance their chances of decent post season play.
The Nittany Lions currently have an RPI of 122 which places them 11th in the Big Ten conference. As of now the Big Ten is looking at maybe 6 teams max making the dance. For their start to continue to rise they will need to pull off these middle tier wins. Nebraska is one that is a must.
They are led by 6’5” guard Tony Carr. The sophomore is averaging 18.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 4.7 apg. He is easily their top player and possibly one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. He is an all around threat that will cause Nebraska problems if they do not put enough pressure on him early. Tony has been seen in many NBA mock drafts and it would not be surprising if this is his last year in Happy Valley.
Lamar Stevens is another sophomore that has played well for the Nittany Lions. The forward is averaging 15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 2.1 apg. He is a solid 6’8” and 226 pounds. If he keeps his shots from mid range or in the paint then he could be a problem for the Huskers. Keeping him outside and the Nebraska will have taken a decent scoring threat out of contention.
Both of these players will be key to a Nittany Lion victory. If Nebraska comes out and shuts down at least one of them then you could see a nice night for the Big Red.
Penn State has had a fairly good season so far for their standards. However, when tested they have generally not lived up to their hype. While there are teams in this conference struggling, I do not see Penn State in a place to take advantage and sneak up the conference rankings.
Yes, they have a couple of very key players but their depth makes me believe that they will take some pretty hard hits as the season goes on. This game against Nebraska being one of them.
Now, there is speculation that Jordy Tshimanga will not travel to Happy Valley and his future with the team is in question.
Source close to Nebraska basketball program says Jordy Tshimanga is NOT headed to Penn State with team. The sophomore center's future with the Huskers will be determined in the next few days. I get the feeling the staff wants Jordy to remain on team.— Steven M. Sipple (@HuskerExtraSip) January 11, 2018
If this is true, you will most likely see a closer game with more emphasis on the Penn State forwards and their guards shooting into the middle more. Jordy hasn’t been stellar but his play has perked up a bit lately.
I expect a close game early on but with Nebraska pushing the Nittany Lions late in the game to secure a solid Big Ten road win. With or without the big man in the middle.
University of Nebraska 78 Pennsylvania State University 63