Penn State will welcome another ranked squad from the Big Ten to the Bryce Jordan Center tonight when head coach Pat Chambers’ squad faces off with No. 18 Michigan State. The ballgame tips off at 7 p.m. and will air on the Big Ten Network.
The Nittany Lions (8-8,0-4 Big Ten) have dropped their first four contests in Big Ten play and will look to right an offense that has averaged just 49.5 points per game in conference losses to Wisconsin, Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue. To do that, guards D.J. Newbill (14.9 ppg) and Jermaine Marshall (14.1 ppg) will need to score early and often to keep the game within striking distance and avoid another home blowout against another formidable Big Ten foe in the Spartans.
Forwards Ross Travis, Brandon Taylor, and Sasa Borovnjak will need to put forth valuable contributions on both sides of the ball for Penn State to have a chance. The Lions have been getting and missing good looks at the basket early and often over the past week. Chambers says the offensive woes come down to confidence and players pressing and not letting the game come to them.
“As long as we’re getting good shots, good layups, getting open shots, we’ve just got to do a better job slowing down and shooting with confidence,” Chambers said at his Monday press conference.
“I went back and watched the breakdowns, watched the offense. I’m not changing anything. We got good shots, we got good post-ups, we got layups, we got 15-footers, we got good matchups. Hopefully the guys can start to see their shots fall through the basket.”
Michigan State (14-3; 3-1 Big Ten) is currently on a three-game winning streak after consecutive conference wins over Purdue, Iowa, and Nebraska. Junior guard Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (13.8 ppg) and is one of seven Spartans who averages at least five points per game and 20 minutes per game of action.
This will be another tough matchup for Penn State. Expect veteran low post players Derrick Nix (6-foot-9, 270 pounds) and Adreian Payne (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) to provide serious matchup problems for Penn State’s undersized front line. I’m not sure it can get much worse than the 25.9 percent shooting effort against Purdue, so I do expect a better offensive showing from the Nittany Lions. It won’t be enough for the Nittany Lions to pull off an upset.
Prediction: Michigan State 74, Penn State 58