The most challenging portion of Penn State’s non-conference schedule begins today as the Nittany Lions face off with the No. 6 ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack in the sixth annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. from the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
NC State, predicted to be the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, is the clear favorite among the tournament field. The Wolfpack made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament last year and are coming off an impressive season opening 97-59 shellacking of Miami (Ohio) in which six players scored in double figures, including all five starters.
Junior forward C.J. Leslie, the 2012-13 ACC preseason Player of the Year, led the squad by averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Wolfpack are also led by All-ACC third team guard Lorenzo Brown. The 6-foot-5 Brown was second in the conference averaging 6.3 assists per game while also putting up 12.7 points per game.
Facing a talent-laden squad like NC State should be a good barometer to see how Penn State compares to some of the top competition in the country. Pat Chambers’ squad struggled shooting from the outside in the season opener against St. Francis, hitting just three of 24 three-point attempts. To compete with the Wolfpack, the Nittany Lions will obviously need to convert at a higher rate while efficiently defending NC State’s fast break offense.
Day one of the tournament also features the following matchups:
- Akron vs. Oklahoma State – 10:30 a.m.
- UNC-Asheville vs. Tennessee – 12:30 p.m.
- Providence vs. Massachusetts – 7:30 p.m.
If Penn State wins, they will play the winner of the Providence-Massachusetts game on Friday. If they lose, they will face the loser of the same game. Besides NC State, Tennessee, UMass and Oklahoma State are the other teams who could potentially contend for the top spot of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Here is the full rundown of the tournament schedule, courtesy of @Ben_Jones88: