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Rematch With Rutgers Headlines Lady Lions’ Big Ten Tournament Path

After finishing the season with a loss to Minnesota, Penn State women’s basketball posted an 11-17 record while going just 5-13 in the Big Ten. Although the NCAA Tournament is likely out of the picture, the Lady Lions will start their Big Ten Tournament journey on March 2.

Penn State and Rutgers will kick off the tournament on the Big Ten Network with a 2 p.m. tip-off. This will be the third matchup between these two squads after splitting their two meetings earlier this season.

The Lady Lions are coming into this tournament with first-team All-Big Ten guard Makenna Marisa leading the way. She finished second in the Big Ten in scoring and ranked inside the top 10 in both field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and assists. Freshman Leilani Kapinus was the second-highest scorer on the team with 9.4 points per contest, which ranked third among Big Ten rookies in points per game. She also ranked second in total blocked shots and steals in the conference.

As a team, Penn State’s offense sits in the middle of the pack. On the other side of the ball, despite being second in the Big Ten with total steals and blocks, the Lady Lions are, on paper, allowing a conference-worst 74.9 points per contest.

For its first matchup of the tournament, Penn State will face the Scarlett Knights led by Osh Brown, who is averaging 10.6 points per game. Rutgers ranks toward the bottom in Big Ten scoring but remained the best defense in the conference by allowing just 60.1 points per matchup. Rutgers’ weakness comes in its 18.7 turnovers per game.

The two best teams in the conference are Ohio State and Iowa, but Penn State’s chances of meeting them are slim. Both teams dominated Penn State earlier this season and averaged a 25.5-point scoring differential between the two outcomes. Ohio State ranks inside the top five Big Ten teams in scoring offense, field goal percentage, three-point shooting, and fewest committed turnovers. Iowa, meanwhile, is buoyed by Caitlyn Clark, who leads the entire NCAA with 743 points and a Big Ten-leading 225 assists.

Maryland and Michigan are also other teams to look out for, especially since the Lady Lions struggled against those two squads this year. Angel Reese leads Maryland after averaging 17.6 points and 10.7 boards per game, which was good enough to put her ninth in the conference for scoring and second in the conference for rebounding. Michigan’s Naz Hillmon, who’s racked up 21.1 points per game, led the Wolverines to an impressive season.

Should Penn State beat Rutgers, it’d face Indiana in the next round. The Hoosiers boast the third-best defense in the Big Ten, guided by forward Nicole Cardno-Hillary, whose two blocks per contest rank second in the conference.

Michigan State and Purdue round out Penn State’s side of the bracket. Nia Clouden leads the Spartans by ranking fifth in the conference in points. Purdue, meanwhile, draws strength from Jeanae Terry, who’s racked up 166 assists on the year.

The Big Ten Tournament will start on March 2 and rage on until a winner is declared on Sunday, March 8. Follow Onward State for coverage as the Lady Lions hope to put together a postseason run.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a junior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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