Penn State Basketball is gearing up for their third showdown against the Purdue Boilermakers, this time with a Big Ten title on the line.
Penn State Basketball is looking to continue their historic run in the Big Ten tournament by taking it all the way for the championship. They started by taking down #7 seeded Illinois 79-76 in a game that meant a lot for their NCAA tournament hopes. They were led by Funk’s 6 made threes along with strong performances from Lundy and Wynter. They followed that game up with an even bigger upset, knocking off #2 seeded Northwestern in overtime 67-65 to virtually cement their spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. Seth Lundy hit clutch shot after clutch shot including a mid-range fadeaway with about 30 seconds left to tie the game in regulation and a deep pull up three to give Penn State the lead with 50 seconds left in OT. He led the Nittany Lions with 16 and Pickett added 15 points to cement Penn State’s victory. Even with the tournament bid secured, Penn State didn’t step off the gas, beating #3 seeded and #19 ranked Indiana 77-73 behind a very strong 28-8-4 game from Jalen Pickett and another nice scoring game for Seth Lundy who finished with 16 points.
This will be Penn State’s third matchup with Purdue after dropping the first 2 in the regular season. The first matchup was a neutral site game at the historic Palestra in Philly. Penn State came out strong that game, feeding off the energy of the crowd and relying on Pickett for some tough shot making to lead 37-31 at half. However, no one outside of Pickett could get it going and the offense just stopped producing. Penn State shot just 42% from the field and 36% from deep on route to a 76-63 loss. Zach Edey had a huge game, pouring on 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead Purdue. The second matchup was more lopsided. Purdue took care of business at home winning 80-60 thanks another strong double-double of 18-13 for Edey and a huge 29-point outburst off the bench from junior forward Mason Gillis that included 9 made threes. Neither side for Penn State could hit a consistent rhythm, and Purdue did a good job of limiting Pickett to just 11 shots.
The keys for Penn State will be smart defensive rotations and the three-point line. It takes a whole team to guard Edey, and that means sending multiple bodies at him to try and make him uncomfortable scoring inside as much as you can. The key is, when you do this, you have to rotate extremely well and fast, because we cannot afford to give these Purdue shooters open shots from the outside. As we saw with Gillis in February, they can absolutely kill you from deep. On offense Pickett will get his and help to facilitate, but everyone else has to knockdown their open shots. Purdue’s offense is a well-oiled machine, the Nittany Lions are not going to be able to turn this into a defensive slugfest like they did against Northwestern. They are going to have to keep pace on offense and that means converting the chances from deep when they hit them.
The championship game will tip off at 3:30 from Chicago and televised on CBS. Both Camren Wynter and Kanye Clary got their ankles rolled up on a bit in the game against Indiana. As of writing this it seems both are good to go for the game tonight but keep an eye on them as the game progresses.