Penn State Basketball path to victory in the Shriner’s Charleston Classic

UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 15: Jalen Pickett #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions shoots the ball against the Michigan State Spartans at Bryce Jordan Center on February 15, 2022 in University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 15: Jalen Pickett #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions shoots the ball against the Michigan State Spartans at Bryce Jordan Center on February 15, 2022 in University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Penn State Basketball could have what it takes to go all the way in the Shiner’s Children Charleston Classic. 

Penn State Basketball got off to a good start in this regular season tournament by defeating Furman 73-68.

The Nittany Lions accomplished this victory by doing what they have done all season, playing good defense and hitting outside shots. Furman was averaging 90 points per game but was held to 68 against the stout Penn State defense. On the other end the PSU team hit 11 threes on 41% as a team. They have hit at least 10 threes and shot at least 40% from three in every game this year to begin the season.

With this big victory we can now look ahead to the rest of the tournament and start to examine who this Penn State Basketball team could be matched up against on Friday and Sunday. To start we will look at the Friday matchup.

Virginia Tech

Penn State Basketball will play the Hokies in the second round of the Charleston Classic at noon Friday the 18th on ESPN2. This will be their first matchup against the Virginia Tech team since the 2020-2021 season when an unranked PSU team upset the 15th ranked Hokies on the road.

Virginia Tech is coming off a 23-13 season with a 11-9 conference record that placed them 7th in the ACC. In a shocking upset they ran the table in the ACC tournament and took home their second conference tournament championship in program history. They were named a 11th seed entering the NCAA tournament, but they fell short to six seeded Texas in the first round.

The Hokies leading scorer from a year ago, forward Keve Aluma, graduated from the school, but this has not seemed to slow them down much. They returned their second and third leading scorers, forward Juystn Mutts and guard Hunter Cattoor, and they are both playing key starting roles. However, it has been new transfer and a newcomer to the starting lineup that have been the biggest stories so far in their 4-0 start. Senior forward Grant Basile is a 6’9 transfer from Wright State has been dominate for the Hokies to begin the season. He is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds on the young season while shooting 65% from the field and 56% from 3. Sophomore guard Sean Pedulla played some bench minutes for the Hokies last season, but he has emerged as a star this year. He is averaging 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 53% from the field and 50% from three.

Virginia Tech defeated Old Dominion in the first round of the Charleston Classic 75-71. They were led by their new star Sean Pedulla’s 18 points and seven assists. Grant Basile added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench while hitting 3 threes. As a whole the team shot 45% from the field and 44% from distance while holding ODU to 41% from the field and 32% from three.

Penn State and Virginia Tech play a similar style of basketball. They both pride themselves on defense and are hurting the the three ball on offense. For Penn State to win they will need to continue their hot shooting, run the Virginia Tech shooters off the line, and have string individual defensive showings from the likes of Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, Caleb Dorsey, and Kebba Njie to stop Pedulla and Basile.

Potential Sunday Matchups

The matchup for Penn State Basketball on Sunday will be determined by the outcome of PSU vs. VT and Colorado State vs Charleston so we will look at both teams.

Colorado State

The Rams are coming off a 25-6 season with 14-4 conference record that placed them 2nd in the Mountain West Conference. They were the 2nd seed in the MWC tournament, but they were upset in the second round by three seed San Diego State. Despite their conference tournament loss thier season was still good enough for a 6th seed in the NCAA tournament. They would lose in the first round 75-63 to the 11th seed Michigan Wolverines.

The Rams lost a huge member of their team this season as star G/F David Roddy declared for the NBA draft and was taken 23rd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a draft day deal. Roddy averaged 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists on a fantastic 57% from the field and 44% from deep. This type of production is impossible to recreate, but the Rams are doing a pretty good job of it so far to get off to a 4-0 start to the season. They have a very balanced attack that allows starters and bench players alike to make a big impact in any given game. The biggest player for them so far has been senior guard John Tonjie who is averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds on 45-41-68 splits, but the damage can come from almost everyone in the rotation.

In the first round of the classic Colorado State dominated South Carolina, winning 85-53. Junior big man James Moors led the team in scoring with 24 points hitting 10 of his 12 tries from the floor. The Rams shot a blistering 58% from the floor while holding SC to just 31%. Both teams shot 30% from three, so the Rams did most of their damage from inside the arc.

Colorado State is a very different team from the Nittany Lions which can help and hurt this Penn State team. On the negative side, they do not have just one guy you need to key in on, you have to really defend that whole roster. Additionally, James Moors proved in round one he can hurt a team inside and PSU lacks size there. On the positive end, the Rams are very selective with their three point shooting which could allow Penn State to be more aggressive with traps and help inside. This would be a tough matchup for this PSU team but one they can win with aggressive team defense and a great performance from their star Jalen Pickett.


The Cougars are coming off a 17-15 season with a 8-10 conference record that placed them 6th in the Colonial Athletic Association. They lost to the 2nd seeded UNC Wilmington in the second round of the CAA tournament, and they did not have any other postseason play.

Like every other team in this list Charleston also lost their leading scorer from last year with John Meeks gradating from the program. Two second year players with the program have picked up the slack to lead Charleston to the 3-1 start they sit at now. Guard Reyen Smith was Charleston’s second leading scorer last year, but he has upped his game significantly for his sophomore season. Raising his scoring output from 13 to 18 points a game on fantastic splits of 49/47/90. Senior guard Dalton Bolon has gone from only playing three games all of last season to starting for the Cougars and he is handling it fairly well so far averaging 13 points on 44% from the floor.

In the first round of the Charleston Classic the hometown team dismantled Davidson 89-66. Senior guards Dalton Bolon and Ryan Larson poured on 21 points each to help offset a rough two point game from Reyen Smith. As a team they shot 46% from the floor and 38% from deep. They outshot Davidson 72 to 51 by causing 17 turnovers and getting 19 offensive rebounds. They held Davidson to just 4 three point makes which is a very clear path to success in today’s game.

Charleston likes to take a lot of threes like Penn State, but that is about where the comparisons end. Charleston’s defense should some real sign of life against Davidson, but overall it has been poor on the season giving up an average of 80 points a game. If they match up Penn State would need to limit the mistakes on offense and stick to the three point hunting offense that has made them successful so far. On defense they would have to really commit to the perimeter because Charleston likes to shoot a lot. A switch everything defense might be the best way to combat this with a small ball lineup like we say at the end of the Furman game.