The Big Ten schedule won’t get any easier for Penn State.
Coming off a tough road loss at Indiana on Wednesday, the Nittany Lions return home to the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday for a matchup with another ranked conference opponent — No. 14 Ohio State. Penn State (8-11, 0-7 Big Ten) has lost seven straight games to open Big Ten play and will look to get into the win column in front of an expected large crowd at the BJC for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Band Together Day. The game tips off at noon and $3 from every ticket sold will be donated to the Coaches vs. Cancer fund.
Penn State will wear its alternate grey uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear grey as well. Grey “band together” shirts will be on sale for fans at each gate of the Jordan Center on gameday for $10 with all proceeds going toward Coaches vs. Cancer.
The Nittany Lions will need a boost in offensive production if they hope to pull off an upset. The Buckeyes’ point guard Aaron Craft is one of the nation’s premier on-ball defenders who will be sure to give D.J. Newbill — a shooting guard by trade — fits all day long. With Craft in Newbill’s back pocket all game long, Penn State will need Jermaine Marshall to shoulder the load offensively while getting help from role players like Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor.
Much of Ohio State’s (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) offense facilitates through one player — 6-foot-7 forward DeShaun Thomas. Thomas leads the Big Ten in scoring at 20.5 points per game, but beyond Thomas, only one Buckeye — Lenzelle Smith Jr. (10.2 ppg) — averages double figures. If Penn State can somehow contain Thomas and shoot at a higher clip than their average of 39%, they could keep things close similar to their hard-fought loss to Michigan State.
Penn State plays hard but their level of talent is not on par with a squad like Ohio State. Expect a competitive first half, but for the Buckeyes to pull away midway through the second half as the Lions’ backcourt starts to tire.
Prediction: Ohio State 72, Penn State 60