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Penn State Nittany Lions

Hawks face struggling Penn State Nittany Lions team

The Iowa basketball team looks to extend their winning streak to four games when they take on Penn State tomorrow evening in University Park, PA.

After a string of tough Big Ten conference games, the Iowa basketball team finally faces a Big Ten team with a losing record when they travel to Pennsylvania tomorrow evening to play the Nittany Lions. Despite any indication in either direction, my assumption is the Hawks will be without star forward Tyler Cook after he suffered an ankle injury against Ohio State, but against the worst team in the Big Ten, this shouldn’t be an issue for the Hawks.

The Nittany Lions aren’t exactly trending upwards right now. Losers of four straight and eight of their last eleven, Penn State has a 7-10 record and has yet to win a Big Ten conference game.

As it stands today, Penn State is arguably the worst offensive team in the Big Ten averaging a conference low 67.2 points per game on a conference worst .408 shooting, which means the Iowa basketball team should have no problem continuing its strong defensive effort of late.

Despite all of this, KenPom doesn’t exactly hate Penn State, ranking them 61st overall out of 353 teams, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that six of their ten losses have come to teams that are ranked or have been ranked throughout the course of the season.

Penn State is led by 6’8” forward Lamar Stevens who leads the team in points (18.6) and rebounds (8) per game. Behind him are guards Rasir Bolton, a 6’2” freshman, and Josh Reaves, a 6’4” senior, who average 11.8 points per game and 10.2 points per game respectively. Reaves is also averaging 4.8 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game and a conference leading 2.6 steals per game.

Defensively, Penn State is much better. Relying on a primarily man-to-man style the defense, they are 39th in the nation in steals percentage and ranked 20th overall in adjusted deficiency efficiency. Due to their style of defense, however, they are susceptible to personal foul trouble, and according to the NCAA, they are 152nd in the nation in personal fouls per game with 18.

For an Iowa basketball team that has put almost every team it’s faced into foul trouble, this is a great matchup for the Hawks. Moreover, Penn State’s head coach Pat Chambers isn’t a huge fan of keeping his players in the game once they begin accumulating fouls. In fact, the playing time of his players in foul trouble ranks 253rd in the nation.

With Cook likely out, McCaffery will need to get big minutes from Luka Garza on the offensive side of the ball and will need Nicholas Baer to play strong defense against Penn State’s star forward Lamar Stevens. Additionally, Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery will need to be keenly aware of Josh Reaves and his penchant for thievery on defense.

Although, the Hawks will be favored in this game, heading on the road is never an easy task. We will find out if the Iowa basketball team is up to the challenge at 6 PM Central Standard Time tomorrow evening at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Hawks need to get wins like this in order to bolster their chances of making the 2019 NCAA tournament.

Next: What the Hawks need to do to make the 2019 NCAA tournament

This game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.

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