2014 CBI Quarterfinal - Penn State at Siena Preview: Nittany Lions Looking to Break Even

The Nittany Lions face a unique postseason road test in Albany, in which the freshman guards should feature heavily.

Who: Siena Saints (16-17, 11-9)
When: Tonight, 7pm ET
Where: Times Union Center
TV: CBS Sports Network
KenPom Rank: 170
Vegas Line: PSU -4
Enemy Blog: 4 Guys in Blazers

Penn State signed up for the CBI to get next year's core players some added experience and they'll get a good test tonight in Albany against Jimmy Patsos' Siena. The Saints posted a winning record in conference play and went 11-4 at home, so this is anything but a gimme.

Pat Chambers insinuated the CBI would heavily feature Geno Thorpe, Graham Woodward, and Jordan Dickerson, but only Thorpe got more than 20 minutes against Hampton. With a win under their belt and complete embarrassment avoided, expect Chambers to try to get this trio a little more run.

Scouting The Opposition

The Saints will be a good litmus test for PSU's young frontcourt, as they are among the national leaders in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing just under 40% of available offensive boards. Forwards Brett Bisping and Imoh Silas are largely responsible, though Silas only gets about 20 minutes per game due to foul trouble. Bisping is the scoring threat on the inside, averaging 10.8 ppg on 51% shooting.

Siena's got a Tim Frazier of their own in freshman Marquis Wright, a pass-first point guard who assists on 32% of his team's field goals when he's on the floor (Frazier's figure this year is 33%). Rob Poole is often the recipient of Wright's passes, as the junior swingman leads the team with 14.8 ppg. Poole and the 5'8" Evan Hymes are Siena's only real threats from beyond the arc, with both shooting around 36% from deep. Because of Hymes' vertical deficiencies, it wouldn't be surprising to see Woodward double his minutes from last Wednesday.

Key Matchup

Road games are often won on the glass, and if guys like Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis can limit Siena's second chances on offense then Penn State should be able to keep an otherwise poor attack (238th nationally in offensive efficiency) in check. On the other end, when the Lions gets a third scorer to complement Frazier and D.J. Newbill it usually results in a victory, and Travis is overdue for a big game.

Prediction

Vegas likes Penn State a little more than KenPom does in this one (PSU -2), but postseason games are so hard to predict (source: your bracket). That said, the Nittany Lions have a favorable matchup here - Siena struggles offensively and is at their best when the game is sloppy and disjointed, as evidenced by their win over NCAA tournament participants Manhattan in which they forced the Jaspers into committing 16 turnovers. Fortunately for Penn State, they've been involved in quite a few slugfests this season so Siena's gameplan shouldn't faze them too much. I like Penn State to just barely cover, 72-67.

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