Saturday, January 10, 2009

Penn State Preview

#22 Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-1, 2-1) Vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (13-3, 2-1)

There are teams in the Big Ten like Michigan State we know are elite and their are teams like Iowa we know are subpar. Penn St. has yet to be placed in the pecking order of the Big Ten. They have perennially been in the basement of the conference not making the NCAA tournament since 2001. They have had some good wins including beating Purdue, however, Purdue was playing without Robbie Hummel and Kramer Berg. Here is Penn State's resume:

Wins to Showcase:
  • Vs. #14 Purdue 67 - 64
  • at Georgia Tech (9-6) 85 - 83
Losses to hide from:
  • Vs. Rhode Island (11-5) 72 - 77
  • Vs. Temple (7-6) 59 - 65
  • Rebounding: 40.5 rebounds per game second in the conference behind MSU
  • Ball Control: 10.9 turnovers per game second least in conference behind Wisconsin
  • Talor Battle: 18.9 ppg, 6.1 rebs, 5.3 ass
  • Defense: Allow 60.7 ppg and opponents shoot 41.2%
  • Depth: After top three scorers, the fourth scorer Danny Morrissey scores 6.1 ppg. By comparison our fourth scorer is Al Nolen with 8.3 ppg.
While Penn State has some talent in Battle, Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley, they are not in my opinion a tournament-caliber team. If the game was at Penn State it would be one thing but they are a team we should beat at Williams. Losing to teams like Rhode Island and Temple at home shows they aren't ready to jump up to the top tier of the conference.

Interesting things to watch
  • Talor Battle Vs. Al Nolen: Two of the best point guards match-up. Nolen struggled to control Kalin Lucas but Battle doesn't have the speed that Lucas does. If Nolen is able to shut down Battle the game will be over quick. Battle last year at Williams was shut out shooting 0-8. If that is repeated this game will be over quick.
  • Blake Hoffarber: Last year Blake put up 29 points in his two games against Penn State. He has been struggling lately but a big game from him would do wonders for the Gophers.

Penn State is a dangerous team. Overall they are average but if their stars get hot they can beat any team in the Big Ten. The key for the Gophers is to jump on them early, let the crowd get into it and Penn State should go away. If Penn State gets going early it will be a long game. The Penn State offense is very perimeter oriented, Minnesota has a lot of defensively talented players in Nolen, Joseph and Johnson. They also should be able to utilize Iverson's blocking abilty in help defense. I think Tubby has this team to focused and determined to get upset but this game will be close. Let's hope the Gophers shoot a lot better than they did Thursday night.

Gophers 65, Penn State 63

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