Tonight, Penn State Men’s Basketball (8-13, 0-9 Big Ten) will vie for its first conference win against a struggling Purdue squad (11-11, 4-5 Big Ten) but let’s be real, you are reading this preview because this game is your last chance to obtain a free Penn State basketball snapback. (Incidentally, tonight is also Dollar Dog night). Hear me out, though — this game may well be the Nittany Lions’ most favorable matchup for the rest of the season.
Penn State will look to dig in at home and avenge the 60-42 beating it received at West Lafayette earlier this season. As crazy as it might sound right now, the Nittany Lions may be able to pull off this win if last season is any guide. Last year’s squad was also crushed by Purdue at West Lafayette but had routed the Boilermakers 65-45 at the Bryce Jordan Center for the team’s first conference win. This year’s squad will have to hope for the same tonight if it doesn’t want to incur the real possibility of going winless in conference play.
Here’s what’s working against the Nittany Lions:
- They have shot under 40% in seven of nine of the team’s losses in Big Ten play, including their loss to Purdue in which they shot a miserable 25.9% from the floor.
- Outside of a heartbreaking, four point loss to Nebraska, the “closest” Penn State has come to a conference victory are 9-point losses against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Iowa.
- Sophomore forward Ross Travis is in the midst of a slump; he was held scoreless in the loss against Ohio State and scored just 1 point in the loss against Iowa.
- It is unclear whether or not freshman forward Brandon Taylor has broken out of his slump — in recent losses against Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State, Taylor had just one made field goal on 20 attempts. He bounced back with an 8 point game in the most recent loss against Iowa, however.
- Well… this team has lost nine straight.
Here’s what’s working for this Penn State team:
- Discounting his poor performance against Nebraska, sophomore guard DJ Newbill has played well in four of the team’s last five games, posting per game averages of 20.0 points (51% shooting; 75.6% on free throws), 4.75 rebounds, 4.25 assists, and 2.25 steals in those contests.
- Junior guard Jermaine Marshall has averaged 18.0 points over the last five games.
Here’s what’s working against this Purdue team:
- They’re not all that good of a team, and have lost their last two games to Indiana and Northwestern by a combined margin of 52 points.
Yes, it’s hard to expect a victory from a Penn State team that is winless in its last nine, but hear me out — this team has fought some solid Big Ten teams in Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Iowa to closer outcomes than the score may indicate. Yes, the team has struggled immensely in the absence of star point guard Tim Frazier but they’ve also gained significant experience having played the bulk of the season without him. It’s only a matter of time before things begin to fall in place for Pat Chambers’ Nittany Lions squad and it may well be tonight. Right?
So come on out, get a swaggin’ free snapback, grab a dollar dog, and who knows, maybe you’ll see the Nittany Lions pull out a win tonight.