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Nitt Picks is Preparing for the Game of Its Life

You would think after dancing through our cupcake non-conference schedule we wouldn't have nerves about playing a team with only six wins to start the Big Ten Conference. Especially a team we've already beaten twice. But as David Jones points out, there is plenty reason for Penn State to be uptight about this game.

They have maybe three players who will see any appreciable run next season when the primo recruits Crean has signed arrive - freshmen Verdell Jones and Tom Pritchard and junior Devan Dumes. Each of those guys has a caveat. Jones is dynamic but still a freshman point guard, an intrinsically mistake-prone species. Pritchard is big, skilled and resolute but slow. Dumes is a great outside shooter but runs a little hot and is given to emotional misjudgments.

The rest of Crean's material is mutts, guys like plodding senior big man Kyle Taber and driveway shooter Matt Roth who wouldn't be seeing the court if it weren't for the current situation.

And you know what? They're all dangerous against PSU. Because they don't give a damn - in a good way. This is it for their season. They don't know when the end of the line arrives, only that it will be soon. They've been running through walls for Crean, giving sides like Michigan State that they have no business challenging all they can handle.

According to Talor Battle, Penn State is going to try to demoralize the Hoosiers by knocking them out early.

"We’re going to go out and really try to throw the knockout punch early," point guard Talor Battle said. "They’re a feel-good team; they start hitting some shots, they start to believe they can beat you."

The perfect scenario would be one where Penn State takes a ten point lead into the half. They come out and stretch it to 20 points early in the second and Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley watch the rest of the game from the bench.

Bucky's 5th Quarter breaks down our chances of advancing through the tournament based on historical performances.

No. 6 Penn State - Historical Prediction: Lose in Semifinals

  • The good news - No. 6 seeds are 10-1 all-time in their first round games. They have also advanced to the Semis in each of the last three seasons. Surprisingly, No. 6 seeds have the third highest all-time winning percentage (.667) and are the lowest seed to win a Tournament (Iowa in 2001). No. 6 seeds have a 6-4 record against No. 3 seeds.
  • The bad news - Penn State is 5-11 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament and only 1-7 since 2002. The Nittany Lions are tied with Purdue for most winless finishes with eight.
  • Just plain news - Penn State has never been a No. 6 seed or higher. That means that the history of No. 6 seeds is probably more relevant than their own history in the Tournament.

What this tells us: A loss to Indiana in the first round is highly unlikely. A win over Purdue in the Quarterfinals is very likely. However, the run will end in the Semis because a No. 6 seed has never made the finals.

Yeah ok so Penn State's record in the Big Ten Tournament isn't so hot. But Talor Battle wasn't on those teams. And as for Indiana's chances...

No. 11 Indiana - Historical Prediction: Lose in First Round

  • The good news - Indiana has reached the quarterfinals in every year of the Big Ten Tournament.
  • Just plain news - No. 11 Illinois made a run to the Big Ten Tournament final in 1999.
  • The bad news - No. 11 seeds are 3-11 all-time in the Tournament and all three of those wins came in 1999 during Illinois' run.

What this tells us: Indiana will have a nice, short drive home Thursday night.

Interestingly, B5Q says we have a great chance of not only beating Indiana, but also advancing past Purdue.

No. 3 Purdue - Historical Prediction: Lose in Quarterfinals

  • The bad news - No. 3 seeds are a dismal 6-11 all-time in the Tournament and have never won the title. In fact, the last time a No. 3 seed even won a game was 2005 when the Badgers reached the final before losing to No. 1 Illinois.
  • More bad news - Purdue is an even worse 4-11 all-time in the Tournament (tied with Northwestern for worst record) and has never won the title. The Boilermakers haven't even reached the Championship game since 1998.

In Scores of Other Games