Game: Indiana (10-5, 0-2 Big Ten) at Penn State (9-7, 0-3 Big Ten)
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
TV: Big Ten Network
While most of the attention in Happy Valley on Saturday will be on the announcement of the new head football coach taking place at 4:15 p.m., there is a basketball game to be played. It’s a game between two teams that have been struggling this season and have yet to win a conference game. The Indiana Hoosiers, used to being at the top of the Big Ten, find themselves in the middle of a down year, having dropped their first two conference games. Penn State has dropped its first three conference games of the season.
If you’ve watched the Nittany Lions this season, you’ve probably noticed a trend. Things usually go well for a while, but then a second-half collapse dooms the team. That was the case again in Penn State’s last outing on Wednesday night against Minnesota. The Nittany Lions were unable to hold a second-half lead and eventually lost by three points.
In that last game, guard D.J. Newbill, who makes up half of one of the best backcourts in the country, really had trouble. He failed to score and ended up fouling out of the game. There might be some cause for concern for the Nittany Lions, as the talented Newbill has scored a total of just seven points in his last two games.
Leading the Nittany Lions in scoring this season is point guard Tim Frazier. He’s averaging 17.1 points a game as well as 6.9 assists per game. Frazier is commonly found at the top of the score sheet after every game.
Unfortunately, Frazier can’t do it all himself. Against the Hoosiers, he’ll need his teammates to step up.
Forward Ross Travis has had a great year, showing a toughness down under the basket that any team would love to have. He is averaging 11.1 points a game and leads the team with 8.3 rebounds a game. He had a monster game in the loss to Minnesota, pouring in 18 points and grabbing 13 boards.
John Johnson, who was recently granted eligibility to play after transferring from Pittsburg has really fit in nicely with this team. He’s added another threat in the backcourt and in four games, has averaged 11 points and shot 43 percent from behind the arc.
After having hopes of a national title the last few seasons, the Indiana Hoosiers are experiencing a down year this season. Inconsistent play and poor shooting have kept the Hoosiers from winning several games. They are coming off of back-to-back losses, including a 83-80 heartbreaking defeat to Illinois in overtime and a 73-56 route at the hands of Michigan State.
The Hoosiers are led by sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell, who is averaging 17.7 points a game. Ferrell has also been dangerous from behind the arc, knocking down 45 percent of his three-pointers. Following him is freshman forward Noah Vonleh, who is averaging 11.8 points a game and leads the team with 9.5 rebounds a game. Will Sheehey has also put together a decent season for the Hoosiers, averaging 10.9 points a game.
Indiana has shown a knack for getting rebounds. The Hoosiers are fourth in the nation in rebounding, grabbing an average of 44.5 boards a game.
This game should be a fairly close one. It’s going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. Expect a physical game down low and watch for whichever team is able to get the shots to fall. Enjoy the show. If nothing else, it will provide something to do before the big press conference happens.
Follow VBR Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter