Penn State returns home to the Jordan Center tonight to face 5th ranked Indiana in the Big 10 home opener. Catch all the action at 7:00 on BTN.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Penn State faced Wisconsin in their Big 10 opener Thursday night in the Kohl Center, a building Penn State has never won in. Penn State got off to a slow start, but hung with Wisconsin through the first 10 minutes, until the Badgers went on a run to end the 1st half 29-18. Wisconsin controlled much of the 2nd half, leading by as much as 13, until Penn State went on a run that ultimately closed it to a 50-49 deficit with 3 minutes to play, but would not get any closer, as the Badgers closed the game on a 10-2 run to win 60-51. Jermaine Marshall lead Penn State with 19 points, and D.J. Newbill added 12, including 2 thunderous dunks, one of which made ESPN’s Top 10. The Badgers shot 26 free throws, to Penn State’s 1.
ABOUT THE HOOSIERS
Indiana opened the season as the top ranked team in the country, and has looked like a legit national title contender. The lone blemish on their 13-1 record is an 88-86 loss to now #17 Butler. The Hoosiers have been an offensive juggernaut, ranking #1 nationally in points per game (87.9), 7th in field goal percentage (51%) and 11th in assists per game (17.5). They are lead by Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller, who averages over 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. He is one of 5 Hoosiers that average in double figures, the others being Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Will Sheehy, and Jordan Hulls. As a team, IU is shooting over 41% from beyond the 3-point arc, and 11th nationally with 41 rebounds per game.
If not for the upset loss to Butler, Penn State would be hosting the top ranked team in the country, and there wouldn’t be much argument about it. Tom Crean has the Hoosiers playing at an extremely high level in his 5th season on the bench, one that poses matchup problems to most teams in the country, but especially a Penn State team still finding itself. PSU’s defensive performance on Thursday against Wisconsin was a step in the right direction, but Indiana’s shooters are going to challenge the Lions in a way they have not seen all season. And if that’s not enough, a potential top 5 NBA pick is inside with Zeller. Penn State needs to control the tempo and make shots to stay in this game. I expect Oladipo, Sheehy, and Watford to find their jump shot early, making it a long night for PSU.
Follow VBR Lead Editor Matt de Bear on Twitter for all the latest on Penn State