For the second straight year, the Penn State Lady Lions will take on the LSU Lady Tigers (must...resist...making...a...Lady...Bears...oh...my...joke...) in Baton Rouge in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
4th seeded Penn State won 90-80 in last year's matchup against 5th seeded LSU, Maggie Lucas did a bunch of Maggie Lucas things, dropping 30 points on 7-12 shooting (5-7 from three, 11-11 from the line). Mia Nickson helped out with 14 points and 10 boards, while Ariel Edwards gave the team 15 points in 17 minutes on the bench.
While little has changed for the now 3rd seeded Lady Lions, quite a bit has changed for now 6th seeded LSU. They have three new starters, including junior forward Theresa Plaisance, who leads the team in scoring (17.3 PPG), rebounding (8.3 RPG), blocks (2.67 BPG) and, despite being 6'5", is second on the team in three point shooting (34.3 percent).
Outside of Plaisance, LSU has three ladies in their backcourt that average double-digit points: senior guard Adrienne Webb (14.2 ppg), freshman guard Danielle Ballard (12.2 ppg) and senior guard Bianca Lutley (10.2 ppg). Ballard is also second on the team with 6.6 RPG.
While LSU can absolutely fill it up, ranking 43rd nationally with 69.1 PPG, their weaknesses are twofold: One is that they aren't exactly a Les Miles-caliber defense. They're 130th in the country in rebounding margin by a margin of +1.4 (outside of Plaisance and Ballard, nobody is averaging more than 4.1 RPG). Their field goal defense is pretty bad, 161st in the country defending the three (30.3 percent) and 175th in overall FG% (38.7 percent). Lastly, their scoring defense is abysmal, allowing 63.4 PPG, which is 216th in America.
LSU's second issue is protecting the ball (which does make them similar to a Les Miles coached team, I suppose). Despite having experience in their backcourt, LSU is 121st in assist-to-turnover ratio and 173rd in turnovers per game. Their three star guards, Webb, Ballard and Lutley, have 220 assists to 280 turnovers, for an assist-to-turnover ratio of .78:1.
To win, it's pretty simple: Penn State needs to force turnovers and put pressure on LSU's defense. Luckily, Penn State is great at both of those things. If PSU can keep Plaisance from going HAM while preventing Webb, Ballard and Lutley from beating them, Penn State should be able to win this game.
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