Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
The streaking Nittany Lions host a Badgers squad in dire need of a confidence boost before the postseason.
|Who:||Wisconsin Badgers (20-10, 11-6)|
|Where:||Bryce Jordan Center|
After an 0-14 start to the conference campaign, the Nittany Lions have won two out of their last three games and take on a Wisconsin team that's in a bit of a rough patch right now. The Badgers were stunned by Purdue at home last weekend, and they carried that lack of momentum into the Breslin Center, where they were dismantled by Sparty, 58-43. With spirits high in Pat Chambers' camp, the last home game of the year could get interesting if recent form prevails.
The last time these two teams met way back in January, Bucky had to stave off a late rally from the visiting Lions before securing a 60-51 victory in their conference opener. Wisconsin won the game at the free throw line (despite shooting 13-26 on freebies) because Penn State "earned" an incredible one (1) trip to the stripe. Otherwise, the Nits played solid defense, holding the Badgers to 38.6% shooting. Jermaine Marshall had one of his best shooting nights of the year, going 9-14 from the field for 19 points, and D.J. Newbill did this twice:
Wisconsin's poor play of late can be attributed to some Penn State-esque shooting woes. They were absolutely dreadful at Michigan State, converting a mere 15 of their 51 field goal attempts. They weren't quite as bad against Purdue (40% FG) but their three-point shooting left something to be desired (6-28 from distance). But considering how stout their defense can be, a return to an average offensive effort should be good enough to win at the BJC.
That, of course, is contingent on Penn State failing to perform at their highest level. They showed what they are capable of in their last home game, which resulted in famous win against a top five Michigan team. Newbill and Marshall have been excellent in the wins, and luckily for Penn State, Wisconsin has had trouble containing dynamic guards lately; MSU's Keith Appling (19 points on 7-13 shooting) and Purdue's Terone Johnson (16 points on 7-15 shooting) have had success against the Wisky D over the last two games.
On the inside, it'll be interesting to see how the reborn Sasa Borovnjak fares against a tough interior defense. Sasa had a difficult outing at the Kohl Center--he put up 8 points, but he also failed to grab a single rebound and ended up fouling out, but he's certainly made great strides since that conference opener. The de facto senior posted a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) at Northwestern on Thursday night, and with Badger big man Jared Berggren is coming off a pretty poor outing (6 points on 2-9 shooting), the Serb could be primed for a good game in his BJC swan song.
Personally, I'm excited to see what kind of coaching sorcery Chambers will whip out on Sunday. Against Michigan, he neutralized Trey Burke by sticking Ross Travis on the All-American candidate, and against Northwestern he didn't make a single second-half substitution. My money's on some form of the Flying V. What say you, fair commenter?
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