Penn State Basketball–Previewing The Big Ten Season

Finally the wait is over. The Big Ten released the full season schedule today. How do things pan out for the Lions? Frankly this could be the toughest first 2 weeks of the Big Ten season Penn State has every seen. Trips to Indiana and Michigan to start out the season and then at home against Purdue and Michigan State. Whoever made this schedule decided that Penn State students didn’t need to see the big games as those two games are over break. Penn State basketball is officially the Northwestern football of the Big Ten.

Fear not though, the Big Ten season is long, lets look at the big picture.

 December 27th-6:30-Penn State @ Indiana: In a stacked Big Ten if you had to start a game on the road this would be the way to do it. Last season Penn State opened up on the road against Minnesota and almost came away from one of the conferences toughest venues with a win. Indiana gives the Lions a good test, as the Hoosiers are about as good as Penn State but not as deep. It won’t be an easy win, no wins in the Big Ten are, but Penn State should like their chances in this game.

  • Prediction: Penn State

January 2nd-4:00-Penn State @ Michigan: Michigan is never an easy team to play even though they might be the most wishy-washy team in the conference. They came to the BJC two years ago and got spanked, and then ran the Lions out of the gym at home. Without Manny Harris Michigan is going to be struggling to find itself early on in the season, so Penn State picked up this game at the perfect time. It’ll take a good effort to beat Michigan on the road, but Penn State couldhave the tools to pick up a solid road victory. This game doesn’t scream “easy win” for Michigan, so Talor Battle gets the nod.

  • Prediction: Penn State

January 5th-1:00-Purdue @ Penn State–(Students on break): Now it starts to get fun. Purdue and Michigan State over the span of 3 days. Nobody beats Purdue, and while the BJC has given Penn State a boost, there isn’t much reason to honestly expect a win in this game. That being said, nobody knows what kind of basketball Penn State will be playing at this point in the season. Purdue isn’t impossible to beat, you just have to play good defense and take smart shots. If Penn State is playing smart basketball they can drag this game out and have a chance to win it. Likely? Not really. But possible, even more so with Penn State’s tendency to give highly ranked teams a run for their money at home.

  • Prediction: Purdue

January 8th-1:00-Michigan State @ Penn State–(Students on break): Michigan State dodges a bullet on this one. For whatever reason Izzo seems to have problems going home with an easy victory at the BJC. With students on break he’ll have a chance to get it done without Nittany Nation breathing down his neck. Don’t forget last year 14,000 people showed up to root for a 0-11 Penn State team so MSU gets off easy with this one. They match up pretty well with the Lions and this will be one of the last head to head showdowns between Talor Battle and Kalin Lucas. Whichever player has a better game could have a slight leg up in the Big Ten Player of The Year race early on in the season. No students makes this hard than usual.

  • Prediction: Michigan State

January 11th-9:00-Illinois @ Penn State: I bet Bruce Webber hates us at this point. Minus his 154 other shortcomings DeChellis just knows what he’s doing when it comes to Illinois. An early home game against a team that’ll be on the last leg of the Tisdale, McCamey tour should be in theory better than ever. The Lions have a pretty solid track record of playing Illinois as of late so there is no reason Penn State can’t pick up one more win here.

  • Prediction: Penn State

Record Checkpoint–Looking at the first 5 games of the season there isn’t any reason why the Lions couldn’t be 3-2. Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois are all winnable games. That’s just a first glance, without seeing this team play it’s impossible to really know. 

January 15th-5:30-Penn State @ Ohio State: If I remember correctly Penn State has yet to beat Ohio State while being in the Big Ten. They’ve give the Buckeyes a good run for their money more than once, but they’ve never sealed the deal. For Ohio State it’ll be all about filling Evan Turner’s position as the token leader. Ohio State struggled a lot without him last season but I wouldn’t expect that to happen again. There isn’t any reason to think Penn State will win this game, but Ohio State should expect another hard fought battle.

  • Prediction: Ohio State

 

January 19th-8:30-Penn State @ Purdue: The more I read this schedule the more it gets to me. These games aren’t played in Penn State’s favor and the Big Ten didn’t even pretend that they were.Everybody has to play everybody, but the Lions get a brutal draw in regards to the order of opponents. Purdue on the road is next to impossible, nobody beats them there, so unless they all get sick the day of the game you can just hope that Battle makes it home healthy. I believe, but the kool aid isn’t that strong.

  • Prediction: Purdue

January 26th-6:30-Iowa @ Penn State: Whats that you say? A rest between games? Must be a big opponent coming into town. Who is it, oh…it’s Iowa. Penn State should be healthy and rested come gameday, and even though last season’s loss was random, given another 10 chances I doubt Penn State loses to Iowa more than 4 times. All things considered we should take the 6-4 record and run. This is a great chance to get on the winning side of things and get their feet back under them to start a 2 game home stand.

  • Prediction: Penn State

January 29th-4:00-Wisconsin @ Penn State: Wisconsin is another one of those teams that you hate the play. I feel like we’ve said that about the whole Big Ten. Wisconsin is a lot like Purdue in their style of play, the advantage Penn State will have this time is their depth versus Wisconsin’s. Losing Trevon Hughes will set the Badgers back a little bit but they should find their new leader by the time their clash with the Lions arrives. Penn State will have a better chance than usual to upend Bo Ryan, but as usual it won’t be easy.

  • Prediction: Wisconsin

February 1st-9:00-Penn State @ Illinois: I think the Big Ten Network puts the Illinois/Penn State games in prime-time because something odd always happens when these two teams play. At this point in the season you’ll have a better idea of how things should pan out, but Penn State has an edge in this game because it’ll be like the past 15 games these teams have played. Long, random, and Penn State will somehow win or lose it late. I’ll go with a series split.

  • Prediction: Illinois

Record Checkpoint–This section of the schedule is a little easier, but that isn’t saying much. Assuming the Lions go into these games 3-2 they ought to be leaving this section 4-6. Illinois and Iowa are really the only legitimate chances for wins the Lions will see. Too many road games to really think they can win more.

February 6th-12/3:00-Michigan @ Penn State: Penn State should win this game. Michigan shouldn’t be anything special this year and the Lions shold be on  the upswing going in. Home crowd, and having just won the last game should be enough to pick up a W against UM. At this point of the season we ought to know Talor Battle’s position in the Big Ten POY race and games that could go both ways will be key to him picking up the award. It’ll depend alot on Hummel and Lucas’ season as well, but he should have control of his chances. He has the tools to win it.

  • Prediction: Penn State

February 10th-7:00-Penn State @ Michigan State: For whatever reason I love watching Penn State play at Michigan State. I think because of their recent success playing MSU it gives the Lions a little bit of swagger walking into the Izzone. They won’t be favored to win, but they won’t be scared of the challenge. It’s hard to ever pick against MSU at home, but Penn State should be in the game until the very end. If Penn State is on a 2 game winning streak they could pull it out, but really predicting a game this deep into the season is tough enough. Nod goes to Sparty.

  • Prediction: Michigan State

February 13th-3:30-Northwestern @ Penn State: Where have you been Northwestern? Penn State should win this game. Kevin Coble would have been in the POY award conversation but since he opted out of his senior season Northwestern should be in trouble again this year. It’s a shame too, they were looking to finally make the dance this year and now they’re looking to finish in the top half of the league without their star player. No reason Penn State should lose this game.

  • Predicition: Penn State

February 17th-7:00-Minnesota @ Penn State: Minnesota at this point of the season will be a Top 25 team, or a team wishing it could start the season over again. I imagine it’ll be somewhere in between. Good, but not quite good enough. These are the teams Penn State matches up well against and playing at home should be all the Lions need to pick up the win. It could go the Gophers way, but they usually split the series with Penn State.

  • Predicition: Penn State

February 20th-6:00-Penn State @ Wisconsin: Last season Penn State should have won against the Badgers, Trevon Hughes did what he always does and woke up at the end of the game enough for the Badgers to squeak out an OT win. Penn State could be looking at their 3rd straight win and this might just be the time they put it all together against Wisconsin. It’s hard to ever pick against Bo Ryan but the Lions might just have what it takes. Nod still goes to the home team though.

  • Prediction: Wisconsin

Record Checkpoint–Entering 4-6 with the next patch of games at home the Lions should come out of these 5 games 3-2 putting their overall record at 7-8.

February-24th 9:00-Penn State @ Northwestern: The nice part about this game is it’ll act as a rebound from whatever happens against Wisconsin. Penn State wins and they could be looking at 5 out of their last 6. Lose and Northwestern is a great chance to get back on the winning side of things. Talor Battle shows up whenever the cameras are running and this game is on ESPN/2/U. It’s easy to root for Northwestern but hard to see them winning this game.  

  • Prediction: Penn State

March 1st-9:00-Ohio State @ Penn State: Senior night and all bets are off. It isn’t easy picking Penn State but they gave them a pretty good run at the BJC last year and senior night is always an emotional time. Currently Ohio State has a few questions, and I just don’t have it in me to pick against Talor Battle’s last home game. It’ll be tough. But I’m picking Penn State.

  • Prediction: Penn State

March 6th-1/6:00-Penn State @ Minnesota: Depending on how this season pans out Penn State and Minnesota could be fighting for the same seed in the Big Ten tourney or Minnesota could need this win to make it off the bubble. This game is hard to predict because so many aspects about the season could be in play. Minnesota is a tough team to beat on the road, but there isn’t any reason Penn State can’t win against a team they match up well against. Assuming Minnesota is fighting for something I’d take Tubby Smith’s preparation.

  • Prediction: Minnesota

So in theory Penn State leave the Big Ten season 9-9. You wouldn’t have to try hard to find more losses, but Penn State lost 9 games by 5 or fewer points last season so the wins are within reach.

Topics: Big Ten Basketball, Penn State Basketball

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