Predictions for Penn State-Temple
It’s the day that Penn State basketball fans have been waiting for for a decade: the Nittany Lions return to the NCAA Tournament. The boys in Blue and White take on the Temple Owls, the same team that beat them in Atlanta in the 2001 Sweet Sixteen in their last appearance. The sports minds here at Onward State have differing opinions on how tomorrow’s game will shake out:
I’ve gone back and forth about this game ever since it was announced on Sunday night. I initially liked the fact that we drew a team that played the game almost as slow as we do. But looking at their results from this year, they can score 70-80 points a game if they really want to. More bad news for Penn State came later on in the week when it was announced that Temple forward Scootie Randall would be back after missing the Owls’ final seven games of the season.
Still, I believe that Talor Battle and company have at least one game left in them after their magical Big Ten Tournament run. If Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks can hold their own against Lavoy Allen, it will help immensely towards an upset. Obviously, Battle will need a huge game and Frazier will need to have a Michigan State-type performance instead of the one he had on Sunday against Ohio State.
Penn State 53 Temple 47
Penn State–and Ed DeChellis–shouldn’t be content just to find themselves playing in an NCAA tournament game for the first time in a decade. Indeed, though the celebration began on Selection Sunday, a first round exit would bring little joy to this long suffering fanbase. Unfortunately, DeChellis’ future in Happy Valley seems a lot more solid as a result of his reaching the tourney, but, unlike the Nittany Lions’ NIT Championship of two long seasons ago, this is a culmination rather than a launching point for greater things. With such a senior-heavy, and top-heavy roster, Penn State has to make their run now, or it will never come.
In Temple, Penn State draws a greater challenge than many would be likely to admit. Though the Owls aren’t a particularly flashy team, they’ll be able to exploit Penn State’s greatest weakness–perimeter defense–and Scootie Randall’s return to the lineup gives them a depth and variety of scorers the Lions’ cant match. Though many see Talor Battle as the type of player who will shine in the NCAA tournament–much like Steph Curry did for Davidson a couple years ago–he’s been more streaky than we’d like to admit, and the size of Juan Fernandez will pose a major matchup issue.
I’d like to believe that Penn State will get the win, but they beat Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State not through their own stellar play, but rather because of ugly play by the Hoosiers, Badgers, and Spartans. But the NCAA tournament is no time to fool around, and even a solid effort from Temple should be enough to vanquish the Lions.
Temple 60 Penn State 51