Nov 18, 2012; Uncasville, CT, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta during the first half of a game against the Washington Huskies at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State at Penn State Hoops Preview

The 14th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes visit the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday at noon. The game will be aired lived on BTN. Update: Game is on ESPN2. Since Penn State cancelled classes due to the sub-freezing temperatures this week, the BJC should be packed forced its students to bear the elements all week, it will be interesting to see how many from Nittany Nation show up for the early tip.  Although, Saturday’s game is PSU’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer game, which consistently draws a large crowd.

The Last Time Out

Penn State traveled to Bloomington to face the #7 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Entering the game as 24 point underdogs, the Nittany Lions looked the part. The Lions were led by D.J. Newbill (18 points & 7 rebounds in 39 minutes) and Jermaine Marshall (12 & 6 in 28). This should come as no surprise; since Tim Frazier’s injury, Newbill or Marshall has lead the team in scoring in 14 of 16 games. The lone bright spot was holding Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller to 0 field goals in 21 minutes of play. Also, Penn State did cover the spread: Since Big Ten play started, they are often playing for winning ATS instead of winning percentage. They are now 0-7 in the conference, with the average losing margin at 14.5 points per game.

About the Buckeyes

Ohio State is 14-4 overall, and 4-2 in conference. They have won three of their last four coming into State College. The offense is led by Deshaun Thomas, who has picked up where he left off in last season’s NCAA tourney. He is averaging 20.5 PPG this year, and has lead the Buckeyes in scoring the past nine games in a row, and in rebounding the past two. Look for Aaron Craft, the reigning B1G Defensive Player of the Year, to try to make life miserable for Penn State’s backcourt; the junior leads the team in steals, is second in FT attempts, and first in FT percentage. Thad Matta’s defense is holding teams to 58.2 points per game, a number the Lions have only reached twice since the new year.

The Matchup

To steal a line from Led Zeppelin, with these Lions, “The Song Remains the Same.” Penn State coach Pat Chambers has to find a way to slow down Thomas and hope to win an ugly, slow, defensive game. The Nittany Lions have been too inconsistent on offense, especially with their outside shooting (2-15 3pt FG last game). Even after losing Jared Sullinger to the NBA draft, this year’s Ohio State team looks too good offensively and defensively for PSU to give them much difficulty on the court. If the Lions can pull it out, expect a lot of crow eating on the recap Saturday night. If they can’t, the Lions will have one more shot to avoid becoming the first team since 2009-2010 to go 0-for-January. That year’s team lost 12 in a row en-route to an 11-20 record.

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