The Nittany Lions are quickly becoming a very exciting team to watch. After tough losses to DePaul and Bradley, they bounced back by upsetting no. 13 Virginia Tech. Penn State then traveled to College Park and lost to No. 24 Maryland 66-59 in their conference opener. It was a game that the Lions could have won, and they looked very good in their first conference test.
Next up for the Nittany Lions is their home conference opener. As the Nittany Lions search for their first Big Ten victory of the season, they will welcome a young and talented Indiana Hoosiers squad to the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Hoosiers have the talent to be one of the three or four best teams in the Big 10, but they have not always played like it in the season’s early going. Indiana upset 24th-ranked Marquette (at the time) in their third game of the season, but since then the Hoosiers have lost to Arkansas, were blown out by Duke, and squeaked past Northwestern 68-66 in their Big 10 opener. Victories over UT Arlington and UC Davis have been sprinkled in there, as well.
The inconsistency of Indiana can be chalked up to youth. True freshman Romeo Langford leads the Hoosiers in both minutes (33.3) and points (18.0) per game. Fellow freshman Rob Phinisee is third on the team in minutes while sophomore Aljami Durham, who is averaging eight more minutes per game than last season, checks in at fourth.
While there is a bit of a youth movement being experienced in Bloomington, senior forward Juwan Morgan continues to be one of the team’s most important players. The 6-foot-8 Morgan is second on the team in scoring (16.3 PPG) and is the team’s leading rebounder.
Due to an injury suffered on Saturday, Morgan will be a game time decision. If Morgan misses the game that will be a huge boost to the Nittany Lions.
Much like the Nittany Lions, the Hoosiers have struggled to rebound the basketball in the season’s early going. Indiana’s 5.8 rebound margin is tied for 68th nationally this is an area of the game the Nittany Lions need to try and win on Tuesday night.
Mike Watkins – This one is simple, what will the Nittany Lions get from Mike Watkins on Tuesday night? After missing the first five games of the season he returned in their upset of Virginia Tech and was one of the team’s best defenders while reeling in seven rebounds, blocking two shots, and picking up two steals in 22 minutes played. However, he played just 11 minutes against Maryland and he is now dealing with knee issues once again to boot.
Will the shooting woes continue? – In the season’s early going the Nittany Lions have been one of the worst shooting teams in the country. Penn State’s 42.0% field goal rate ranks 276th out of 351 Division 1 teams. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing a Big Ten school or a D3 school, if you are not making shots you are not going to win.
Indiana on the road – Indiana has been a different team away from Assembly Hall so far this season. The Hoosiers are 6-0 at home and winning by an average score of 87-59. On the road they are 0-2 and are losing by an average score of 82-71. Will this trend continue on Tuesday night? Let’s hope!
Indiana is averaging over 80 points per game, while Penn State has struggled to score consistently. That will be the difference on Tuesday night. Indiana 70, Penn State 64