Pennsylvania State Preview
Date: Sunday, February 25th
Time: 4:15pm CST
Location: Lincoln, NE
Last Meeting: Penn State 76 Nebraska 74 in Overtime at College Station
Current Record: 19-11 (9-8 Big Ten)
This has turned into your ideal last game of the season for both of the squads. Both are vying for better placement in the Big Ten Tournament. They are also both hoping to land in the illustrious NCAA Tournament. Each team needs this win.
Since we last saw the Nittany Lions they have gone 6-5 in the conference. Immediately after beating Nebraska in Overtime they then proceeded to lose to Minnesota, also in overtime, and at Northwestern. They then traveled to #16 Ohio State and stunned the Buckeyes 82-79. A huge win for a team that was looking like a hot and cold team.
After beating Rutgers they flew out to East Lansing where the #5 Spartans sent the Lions home with a 76-68 loss. From there Penn State went on a four game win streak beating Iowa, Maryland, and Illinois. The fourth was another upset over then #8 Ohio State. The 79-56 blowout woke up their post season hopes once again and positioned them well in the middle of the Big Ten.
Penn State is currently coming off back to back losses to #6 Purdue and #17 Michigan. Both games were fairly competitive until the very end when the Nittany Lions could not longer match up against the firepower of each of those teams.
Like Nebraska, Penn State needs this win. They are not only looking for a good seeding for the Big Ten Tournament but to also get off the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. A win against Nebraska would get them one step closer to post season glory.
They will be without forward Mike Watkins on Sunday. Watkins had a huge game against Nebraska in January with 20 points and 15 rebounds in the win. The Penn State leading rebounder injured his right knee in the loss to Michigan on Wednesday. This is a huge loss for the Nittay Lions and it opens the Huskers up greatly under the basket. 6’8” forward Lamar Stevens replaced him against the Wolverines so I would expect him to start in his place against the Huskers.
Even without Watkins, Penn State should still be competitive against the Huskers in what looks like a hostile environment on Sunday. Point guard Tony Carr is still making life difficult for Big Ten teams. The sophomore is still leading the conference in scoring. He is currently averaging a whopping 19.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 4.9 apg. That 4.9 apg ranks his 5th in the conference. The offense still runs through him and Nebraska will have to keep him in check throughout the game.
I will keep this simple. Penn State and Nebraska both need this win. They are both somewhat surging right now and have the talent to pull this game off. Tony Carr can easily take control of the game if the Huskers come out flat. However, they will be hurting down low without Watkins. Something Nebraska should be able to take advantage of with Jordy Tshimanga and Isaiah Roby paying well.
In the end, it will be the crowd and Pinnacle Bank Arena that will hopefully make enough difference to have Nebraska keep this last season win at home.
University of Nebraska 68 Pennsylvania State University 61