Dollar Dogs and Push-ups: Senior Night Preview
After a five-day layoff, Penn State is back on the court tonight searching for its first conference win as the fourth ranked Michigan Wolverines (23-4, 10-4) and former Penn State commit Trey Burke visit the Bryce Jordan Center to take on the Nittany Lions (8-18, 0-14) with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m.
For most students, this is essentially the final home game of the season. Let’s be honest, you’re not coming back by noon the Sunday after spring break to watch them play Wisconsin, although given the recent season finale overtime victories against the Badgers in other sports, maybe you should.
While you may have given up on this team a long time ago, there are a few enticing reasons to attend tonight’s contest:
- Senior Night — Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak will be honored in a pregame ceremony along with the senior managers. While those are certainly not the most decorated names in program history, the occasional three point shot by branch campus wonder Colella will be missed, and Borovnjak has actually played really good basketball as of late. The forward is shooting 74% from the field in his last three games and averaging 16 points a game in that span, including a career-high 17-point performance at Michigan a week and a half ago.
- Dollar Dogs — This one pretty much speaks for itself here. It is the last one of the season and coincides well with the somewhat early tip time.
- Push-ups and Iron Lion T-shirts — Before scarfing down dollar hot dogs, you can get to the game early and get some exercise in, helping a great charity in Uplifting Athletes. Plus, these shirts are way better than Michigan’s “We On” warmup gear.
- Penn State is playing decent basketball lately — The Big Ten win column still reads zero, but the Nittany Lions have played well their last three games, shooting a respectable 44% from the field. The Iowa game came down to the final seconds. They hung tough against Illinois who entered on a four-game winning streak, and in-between those two contests, they were tied with Michigan at the Crisler Arena at halftime and only fell to the Wolverines by eight points.
In the game at Michigan, D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall both shot poorly, going a combined 9-26. That will have to improve tonight if the Nittany Lions hope to have any chance of pulling off the upset at home. While Tim Hardaway Jr. has struggled recently for the Wolverines, Burke went off for 29 points in the last meeting, and freshman forward Glenn Robinson III added 21 of his own without missing a shot from the field.
For as talented as they are, Michigan can have some major lapses at times. They have lost three straight road games including a 23-point blowout to rival Michigan State two weeks ago.
The stars will have to align almost perfectly for Penn State to pull this off, but given the recent close games and specifically the one against Michigan, it is not inconceivable to think the Nittany Lions could hang around and keep things interesting.
Phrases like “we’re close” and “I know we can do it” have been common from the mouth of head coach Pat Chambers over the past month as his squad continues to search for that elusive Big Ten win in his second season at the helm of the program.
A victory tonight would be quite the breakthrough.