Know Your Enemy: Penn State Hoops vs. No. 13 Ohio State
Seventh-seeded Penn State men’s basketball (20-12, 10-9 Big Ten) defeated Northwestern on Thursday to set up a third round matchup against the second seed, Ohio State (24-7, 15-3 Big Ten). Penn State will be without big man Mike Watkins, who was ruled out for the Big Ten Tournament. Despite losing the last three games of the season, Penn State worked its way back onto the bubble of the NCAA Tournament, and a third victory over Ohio State would give the selection committee something to talk about.
Zeroing In On Ohio State
Ohio State comes in as the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and has not played yet after two days of games at Madison Square Garden since it had a double bye. The Buckeyes only lost three games in the conference during the regular season, two of which were against Penn State.
The Buckeyes are led by Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop, who is averaging 19.2 points and 8.9 rebound per game. Senior forward Jae’Sean Tate is second on the team with 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. C.J. Jackson and Kaleb Wesson play great contribution roles for the Buckeyes, averaging 12.4 and 11 points per game, respectively.
In their first matchup, The Nittany Lions gave Ohio State its only loss of the Big Ten season to that point, thanks to a half-court heave at the buzzer from Tony Carr. Carr led the Nittany Lions with 28 points in the game, but Bates-Diop also shined with 25 points and nine points in the final 1:42 of the game. Josh Reaves, whose presence was missed during an academic suspension in January, returned just in time for the game in Columbus.
In the second matchup, Penn State blew out Ohio State 75-56 in front of a large whited out crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Carr led the Nittany Lions with 30 points, and Mike Watkins added a double double. The Nittany Lions defense held Bates-Diop to only 10 points. Coach Chambers was able to clear his bench at the end of the game and give his starters a well-deserved standing ovation exit from the court.
Penn State should be flying with confidence now. The Nittany Lions finally won a game with Mike Watkins out of the lineup and they’re also playing an Ohio State team they’ve already beaten twice.
Penn State didn’t get much from the combination of Julian Moore, John Harrar, and Satchel Pierce against Northwestern, but if the trio can limit the offensive rebounds for Ohio State and stay out foul trouble, it will bode well for the Nittany Lions.
Tony Carr’s had some big games in the past against Ohio State, and another solid effort will be needed if the Nittany Lions will upset the Buckeyes for the third time in one season. Don’t expect another 24-point blow out like the one two weeks ago, but Penn State should have enough confidence to stick around in this game and potentially steal one against Ohio State while under-manned.
Penn State-Ohio State tips off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Madison Square Garden. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.