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Staff Predictions: No. 22 Penn State Hoops vs. Minnesota

Penn State men’s basketball (17-5, 7-4 Big Ten) will play host to Minnesota (12-10, 6-6 Big Ten) at 4 p.m. Saturday, February 8 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Pat Chambers’ group is currently on a five-game tear that has included wins over Ohio State and, most recently, No. 16 Michigan State. The last game the Nittany Lions dropped, though, was against the Golden Gophers, as they failed to keep up and fell 75-69 in Minneapolis thanks to a tough second half.

Penn State will try to exact revenge against Minnesota on Saturday afternoon in front of what’s expected to be a large BJC crowd. Our staff is confident that the Nittany Lions will do just that and stay rolling with a six-game win streak.

Katie Braun: Penn State 79, Minnesota 73

The Nittany Lions are expected to have a packed house this weekend with the team announcing there are now less than 1,000 general public seats left. This should give them a good boost as they have previously thrived in similar environments this year. In the past game against the Gophers, the Nittany Lions went without a field goal for 11 straight minutes and struggled to produce a viable offense.

They will need Mike Watkins to step up and produce this time around after being limited to just 7 points in the previous matchup. In addition, Penn State will need Lamar Stevens to stay out of foul trouble and either Seth Lundy or Izaiah Brockington to have a double-digit game.

The Nittany Lions will need to find an answer for Marcus Carr and Daniel Oturu after the two combined for 53 of 79 points for Minnesota. With Penn State on a five-game win streak, the team will attempt to keep the streak alive Saturday.

Michael Tauriello: Penn State 71, Minnesota 63

If you haven’t noticed recently, Penn State has been on a tear ever since their disappointing loss to Minnesota on January 15, racking up victories in all five games that they’ve played since then.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has had mixed results against a relatively similar slate of teams. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Golden Gophers have a little bit of a pep in their step from their solid 70-52 victory over Wisconsin on Wednesday.

But, to give credit where it’s due, it’s hard to deny that Myreon Jones and Lamar Stevens have been playing lights out, especially in the landmark win over Michigan State on Tuesday night, with both having at least 20 points apiece. To add to their hot streak, the Nittany Lions will have had a few days of rest under their belts to retool and come out to play in front of a crowd that is quickly buying into the hype.

Judging from the previous matchup, I think Minnesota will have an idea of what Penn State’s playstyle will be like heading into this game. However, Pat Chambers’ squad is much different now than from the one that had an underwhelming performance in Minneapolis just over three weeks ago. They’re grooving climbing!

Otis Lyons: Penn State 78, Minnesota 69

The Nittany Lions are on a five-game winning streak, are coming back home for the first time in February, and have the chance to go level at the top of the conference in the wins column. It’s a historic opportunity for Pat Chambers’ men, which means one thing: trap game.

Despite the Golden Gophers winning their last contest, Minnesota is a lower-tier Big Ten team. Penn State is highly favored, but I expect a slow start from the Nittany Lions, and at halftime Daniel Oturu and co. will have a lead. The game will mirror the Indiana contest, as I’m sure Lamar Stevens, Myreon Jones, or another scoring threat will come out of the woodwork to seal the game in front of a near-capacity crowd at the BJC.

Penn State will move to 8-4 in conference play, but it won’t be without a fight from a Big Ten player of the year candidate in Oturu and a team trying to play its way into March.

Ryan Parsons: Penn State 81, Minnesota 67

I think Penn State is going to run away with this one from the beginning thanks to the expected environment at the BJC on Saturday. This team is HOT, folks. I don’t see the winning ending here, and expect a revenge game from the boys in blue and white.

Minnesota has given Penn State trouble in now two different sports this year, but I think this will only fuel the team to fire on all cylinders and take care of business. Lamar Stevens has unfinished business with Daniel Oturu and the rest of the Golden Gophers, so I expect another big win from the Nittany Lions on Saturday.

Richard Smeltzer: Penn State 80, Minnesota 65

The first time these two teams met this year was marked by a first-half offensive explosion by both teams, ultimately leading to a frustrating Penn State loss. This game showcased the offensive potential of both teams coming into their next matchup at the BJC.

Since that first matchup, the Nittany Lions have rattled off a five-game hot streak, which I believe will continue on Saturday. Backed by a passionate Penn State crowd, the Nittany Lions’ offense will simply be too much for the Golden Gophers to keep up with. Lamar Stevens and Myreon Jones will score at least 20 points each, as Penn State will go on to win in a relatively comfortable fashion. Nittany Lions by 15.

Trevor Grady: Penn State 77, Minnesota 67

I think the energy from the big win in East Lansing on Tuesday will carry over early on in this matchup Saturday afternoon. Daniel Oturu had a monster stat sheet for Minnesota the last time these teams squared off, posting 26 points and 14 rebounds, but the Nittany Lions will use their one-two punch of big men Mike Watkins and John Harrar to shut down the Gophers inside this time.

I think Jamari Wheeler will be the spark early on, with a couple early steals leading to fast break points. Myreon Jones will have another great shooting first half on Saturday that will open up a big lead early, and Penn State will hold on for a ten-point victory.

Mikey Mandarino: Penn State 69, Minnesota 64

Part of me wants our world to return to the comfort of normalcy, but I know it’s time to embrace the chaos. Pat Chambers — the same Pat Chambers who followed up an NIT title run by winning 14 whole games in one season — will lead the Nittany Lions to the NCAA tournament. Led by Lamar Stevens, the Nittany Lions are as deep as ever, and Chambers has actually managed his bench really well throughout this year.

Chaos will continue to reign when, not if, Penn State exacts revenge on Minnesota for last month’s 75-69 loss in Minneapolis. As the world around us continues to devolve into mass lawlessness and Penn State football helplessly scrambles to keep its spot as the university’s most popular sport, you can only say two words: “basketball school.”

Will Pegler: Penn State 85, Minnesota 62

Lamar Stevens and Co. are going to be pissed off and hungry for a win against the Golden Gophers on Saturday, and I don’t see them leaving any doubt as to who the better team is in front of a rowdy home crowd. Despite the five-game win streak, I don’t expect the Nittany Lions to be complacent in any way against Minnesota, especially considering how things ended in the handshake line between Stevens and Daniel Oturu the last time these two squads met.

The senior forward isn’t going to forget that, and I think he’ll put up at least 25 points in this one. While Stevens will lead the way for the offense, a couple of threes sprinkled in for Myreon Jones and a block or two for Mike Watkins will help Penn State assert its dominance early and often.

The Nittany Lions are playing with swagger, and the added motivation of playing against the team that last beat them will only add fuel to that fire. I expect a blowout at the BJC on Saturday.

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