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History With Purdue Runs Deep In Penn State Hoops’ Big Ten Tournament Championship Game

The stage is set for Penn State men’s basketball’s first Big Ten Tournament Championship appearance since 2011.

After an upset over third-seeded and No. 19 Indiana on Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions will remain in Chicago for their fourth game in as many days against first-seeded and nationally ranked No. 5 Purdue on Sunday.

Penn State is 0-4 against the Boilermakers since Micah Shrewsberry has taken over the helm, but the connection between the two schools is far deeper than their record.

Shrewsberry served as an assistant at Purdue from 2011 to 2013, and after a stint with the Boston Celtics, returned as an associate head coach from 2019 to 2021.

Throughout the regular season with the Nittany Lions, Shrewsberry is typically quick to tell stories about his time at Purdue or lessons learned from head coach Matt Painter. To say the two coaches have a close relationship would be an understatement.

“[Matt Painter is] a guy I call and talk to all the time,” Shrewsberry said. “Despite us being in the same league, we’re talking about things throughout the year… He’s helping me.”

Shrewsberry helped Painter lead the Boilermakers to the NCAA Tournament every year that he was on staff at Purdue and, in 2020, guided current first-team All-American Zach Edey to a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.

“I always want to see Shrews win unless it’s against us just because he helped me so much my freshman year,” Edey said.

Prior to the Boilermakers’ 2019-20 season, Shrewsberry spent seven seasons as an NBA coach in Boston and brought that professional experience back to West Lafayette.

“He’s grown our program,” said Painter. “He’s been a part of it…of making us better. We’ve learned a lot from him. He has some experiences that our staff hasn’t had.”

Since Shrewsberry landed the head coaching gig in Happy Valley, Purdue has gone undefeated against the Nittany Lions in three regular-season matchups and one Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game.

“They’ve beat our brains in every single time we’ve played them,” Shrewsberry said of the Boilermakers. “It’s like the friendliest of rivalries.”

Penn State has lost to Purdue by as few as seven points and as large as 20 points in the last two seasons, but the two coaching staffs always root for the other’s success.

“I’m always indebted to him and have a lot of gratitude for him,” Shrewsberry said of Painter. “He showed me in my years there how to run a college basketball program the right way.”

Whatever Shrewsberry learned from the Boilermakers worked, and the Nittany Lions are heading to the Big Ten Tournament final and the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. The head coach has re-electrified a once-quiet fanbase with new energy and grit.

“To be standing here right now, in this moment, it’s kind of refreshing,” Jalen Pickett said. “But it kind of makes us more hungry because we want to go out and finish what we started.”

Penn State and Purdue will battle for the Big Ten Tournament Championship at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 12. Folks can tune in to the matchup on CBS.

“When it’s over, we’ll go back to friends,” Shrewsberry said.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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