No. 7 seed Penn State (21-12, 11-9) will take on No. 3 seed Purdue (27-5, 16-3) in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals after defeating No. 2 seed Ohio State Thursday night. The Nittany Lions have played themselves onto the bubble of the NCAA Tournament, and a win against Purdue will give the selection committee even more to consider before Selection Sunday next weekend.
Zeroing In On Purdue
The Boilermakers are led by Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards. Carsen Edwards is averaging 18.2 points per game and was voted to the First Team All Big Ten Team this season. Vincent Edwards is second of the team in scoring with 14.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
The big matchup to watch is how Penn State will defend Isaac Haas. Coach Chambers has been using John Harrar and Julian Moore at the five spot, and the duo will have its hands full against the 7-2 center who’s averaging 14.6 points per game.
The Nittany Lions went into West Lafayette 13 days ago riding a four game winning streak. All Big Ten Second Team member Vincent Edwards missed the game against Penn State due to an injury, but Penn State played much of the game without Mike Watkins, who had to sit with foul trouble. Penn State was able to take a 39-36 lead at halftime against the then-No. 6 team in the nation.
After Penn State’s offense went cold in the second half, Purdue ran out to a 11 point lead. Penn State was able to climb back and hang around with Purdue until the end of the game. Down two points with four seconds to go, Mike Watkins was fouled and was sent to the line to shoot two free throws. Watkins only converted on one of the two free throws, and Purdue sank two free throws after to win 76-73.
The Nittany Lions played well last time they faced off against the Boilermakers, but Penn State is now without Mike Watkins and Purdue has Vincent Edwards back on the court. Penn State is also on its third game in as many days, while Purdue only played yesterday in its victory over Rutgers.
Exhaustion will definitely be a factor for Penn State, but Coach Chambers will need to monitor his players’ minutes and work with rotations. If Penn State can stay out of foul trouble, this team is playing with enough confidence to upset Purdue.
Penn State-Purdue tips off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The game will be aired on CBS.