Big Ten Tournament 1st Round Preview: #12 Penn State vs. #5 Indiana

Who: #15 Indiana Hoosiers (24-7, 11-7)
When: Today, approximately at 2:00 PM
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (previously known as Conseco)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Affiliates, Sirius - CH 92, XM - CH 191

For the third time in the past four seasons, Penn State faces Indiana on the first day of the Big Ten tournament. In the previous games in 2009 and 2011, Penn State was the 6th seed on the brink of the NCAA tournament, while 11-seed Indiana was struggling in their rebuilding efforts post-Kelvin Sampson. This year, Indiana's rebuilding project has come to fruition as the Hoosiers are comfortably in the Big Dance and hope to make some noise in the Big Ten tournament for the first time in a while. Believe it or not, the Hoosiers have never won this thing since its beginning in 1998. In fact, PSU owns a 2-1 record against IU and has a better all-time winning % (9-14 for PSU, 8-14 for IU).

Indiana beat Penn State twice this season, but the teams haven't met in over a month. In those two contests, Indiana's offense did whatever they wanted. The Hoosiers scored at a 1.26 PPP clip, made 57.5% of their 3's (thanks to their unreal 16-24 performance at the BJC), and posted a 59.8 free throw rate while converting 76% of their FTA. Penn State will have to do whatever they can to slow down Indiana's attack to have a chance, but that's been a huge issue for PSU against perimeter-oriented teams the last few weeks.

PSU Conference-Only IU
62.3 Pace 65.3
0.97 PPP 1.11
44.5% eFG% 53.4%
32.2% OReb% 29.8%
18.1% TO% 19.3%
30.2% FTR 42.8%
1.09 Opp PPP 1.07
54.9% Opp eFG% 50.4%
27.8% Opp OReb% 33.8%
19.9% Opp TO% 16.8%
49.6% Opp FTR 33.8%

Tim Frazier scored 21 points in both games this season, but shot just 36.5% eFG%. Jermaine Marshall went off for 20 at the BJC but wasn't as productive off the bench in Bloomington (8 points). The biggest reason to believe in the upset is the improvement from Jon Graham and Ross Travis, although they both had good games in the first home matchup. Also, this will be the first time the Hoosiers will have to account for Trey Lewis who didn't play in either of the first two games.

For Indiana, Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth have been huge headaches for Penn State. Hulls scored 28 in State College and 14 in Bloomington. Roth, the 3-point specialist off the bench, made 7 of 8 3PA against PSU. Freshman of the Year Cody Zeller didn't find much resistance, either, shooting 85% while scoring his own 28 points in both games. Then there's Will Sheehey, who has replaced senior Verdell Jones in the starting lineup. If you remember, Sheehey got ejected from the Bloomington contest for receiving two technical fouls after the whole Matt Glover hard foul situation on a late Christian Watford three attempt. Tempers flared, but I don't expect that to have much of an impact outside of maybe some more trash-talking.

Indiana always has a strong fan representation at the Big Ten tournament, so this might as well be considered an away game (where PSU is 0-9 in the Big Ten on the season). Penn State's road struggles are well-documented, but they usually resolve around PSU's terrible shooting. While they will have to be better on that end of the floor, none of it will matter if they can't stop Indiana's attack again.

This is a bad matchup for the young Lions, and it seems likely the season will end today. Hopefully the Lions leave it all on the floor and put a scare into the Hoosiers. Maybe Chambers' 'nothing to lose' attitude allows some of the young guys to play with a clear mind and they make some shots. KenPom projects a 77-61 IU victory (9% of a PSU upset). I hope it's not that ugly but will be surprised if it's in single digits.

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