Ohio State vs. Penn State
Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
Feb. 27th, 2014 at 7:00PM ET (ESPN 2)
While the Penn State Nittany Lions (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten) are floating around the Mason-Dixon Line, they’ve shown a lot of improvement this season under head coach Pat Chambers. It’s safe to say the Buckeyes won’t take the Nittany Lions lightly, as they lost in overtime back in Columbus on January 29th. They’ve also been competitive in a number of games they’ve lost. With the one-two punch of D.J. Newbill (17.4 points per game) and Tim Frazier (16.0 points per game), Penn State is dangerous every time out.
One aspect of their game to keep in mind is their lack of assists per game. They only average 11.6 per game which is 264th in the nation. Most of their scoring comes in the isolation or dribble drive fashion. Newbill and Frazier are isolation type of players. I think this plays into the strength of Ohio State’s defense. Craft will not leave Frazier’s pocket when he puts the ball on the floor. Ohio State will take their chances with Craft playing man to man defense.
On the flip side, the Buckeyes come in on a bit of a roll; winning 7 of their last 9 games. That’s a far cry from their midseason struggles when they lost 4 in a row from January 7th through the 20th. LaQuinton Ross (14.3 points per game) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (11.8 points per game) have both picked up their scoring. By doing so, the Buckeyes have been picking up some big wins. Penn State won’t roll over at home, so it’ll be important for Ohio State to hit some shots early on the road. Guys like Ross and Smith need to see the ball go through the basket early on.
Thad Matta has his crew playing well going into March. He knows this team must grind out games defensively, push the pace when the opportunity presents itself and knock down some perimeter shots with no true inside scoring threat. I like Ohio State to edge Penn State slightly, pulling away in the last 2 minutes, 67-60.