Just three days after being demolished at home by Indiana, Penn State (8-6, 0-2 Big Ten) will look to avoid an 0-3 start in the Big Ten as they host Northwestern (9-6, 0-2 Big Ten) tonight at 8 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Wildcats are on the heels of two double digit losses to Michigan and Minnesota to begin conference play, so each squad will be desperate for a win in a conference where wins should be hard to come by.
The game, which will air on ESPNU, will feature another giveaway for students and the second consecutive DOLLAR DOG NIGHT this week. This time, while supplies last, the second snapback hat of the season will be given out. The @Nittany_Nation Facebook page offered a preview of the hat earlier today. It looks pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.
Penn State’s two leading scorers, D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, struggled on Monday against the Hoosiers, posting scoring performances well below their season averages. Newbill, who leads the team with 14.9 points per game, is looking to bounce back after a 8-point performance on 3-15 shooting against Indiana. Marshall added 11 points, 4 less than his usual per-game average.
Forward Ross Travis led the Nittany Lions with 14 points, but did so on 17 shot attempts. Freshman Brandon Taylor scored only 4 points, fouling out in just 13 minutes of playing time.
Northwestern is 2-3 since leading scorer Drew Crawford was lost for the season with a torn labrum. In his absence, senior Reggie Hearn is leading the Wildcats in scoring (14.2 ppg) while shooting 42 percent from three. Sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski is hitting 44.1 percent from long range while averaging 10.9 points per game. The Wildcats rely heavily on their three-point shooting and average 8.3 made threes per game.
After averaging 78.5 points per game in their final four non-conference games, Pat Chambers’ Penn State squad has come back down to Earth offensively, scoring 51 points in both of their Big Ten games. The Lions will look to get back on track against a very average Northwestern squad who, along with Penn State and Nebraska, seem destined to finish toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings.
This game is definitely winnable if the Lions stay out of foul trouble, defend the three-point line, and get some significant offensive contributions from front court players like Sasa Borovnjak (who, along with Jon Graham, will have a lot to handle in freshman seven-footer Alex Olah) and Brandon Taylor. Look for Newbill and Marshall to bounce back in a Penn State win.
Prediction: Penn State 66, Northwestern 59