,':/ - Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Nittany Lions open conference play in an arena in which they have never won. This should be fun!
|Who:||Wisconsin Badgers (9-4)|
Riding a Chambers-era best four game winning streak, Penn State travels to Madison to kick-off the Big Ten season against Wisconsin, a team that has seen its fair share of struggles in the non-conference slate. However, they come in to Big Ten play having won three in a row themselves, and they'll look to continue their tradition of making swiss cheese of the Nittany Lions at the Kohl Center, as PSU is 0-14 all time in the arena.
Bo Ryan's club is once again laden with guys who can stroke it from deep, despite the loss of projected starting point guard Josh Gasser to injury in preseason.. The Badgers shoot 36.4% as a team from three, and the most of damage is done by three prolific shooters. Ben Brust, Sam Dekker and George Marshall all shoot above 42% from range, so slowing down the Badgers will require nothing short of a great defensive effort from Penn State, who have allowed opponents to shoot a whopping 39% against them this season. By comparison, the Lions shoot a meager 29% from distance.
Jared Berggren leads the frontcourt for Wisconsin averaging 13.4 ppg and 6.7 rpg in just 25.9 mpg. The 6'11" senior center joins Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz on the Big Ten's all-"they've been in college for what seems like a decade and I wish they would go away" team. It'll be an interesting matchup on the boards, as Penn State is now the top team in all the land in limiting their opponents' offensive rebounds (they give up offensive boards on only 23.1% of their opponents' possessions).
It's difficult to envision this Penn State team coming away from the Kohl Center with anything but a big fat "1" in the conference loss column. Even though Virginia was able to win there in the B1G/ACC Challenge, that arena is still one of the biggest home court advantages in college hoops. For the Nits to have any chance, they'll need to keep up the balanced scoring they've relied on during the winning streak and keep the turnovers to a minimum, as the Badgers won't offer up many of their own; Wisconsin commits just 9.2 turnovers per game, tied with Pitt for the best figure in the country.
In team news this week, the team announced yesterday that Jermaine Marshall and Nick Colella, fresh off a career best 15 point performance against Duquesne, were named team captains for the remainder of the season, joining D.J. Newbill. It says a lot about Marshall for him to be given this honor considering he was suspended by Chambers in the early stages of last season. It appears all of the hard work he had reportedly put in over the summer, both on the court and in the classroom, has paid off in a big way.
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