Penn State takes on a young Boston College team (2-5) at the BJC tonight at 9:15pm. The Nittany Lions faced Steve Donahue's squad in last year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge, beating the Eagles on their own floor 62-54. This is Penn State's 12th Challenge appearance all-time, and they have won four of their last five in this competition.
If Penn State, who just defeated a decent Bucknell team is in for a rough season without Tim Frazier, then what does a healthy BC losing to Bryant University say about them? While the Eagles have defeated a major-conference team in Auburn (which is grasping at straws, to be honest), Donahue's third go-round appears to be a non-starter. However, that isn't to say the Eagles are completely devoid of talent.
BC's Ryan Anderson is the latest version of "the post player Penn State will have to worry about," having faced multiple caliber bigs already. The sophomore is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds through five games this season. The Nittany Lions were able to limit the impact that Bucknell's Mike Muscala had on Friday--despite his final numbers of ten points and 12 rebounds, Muscala was unable to influence the game in the second half, allowing for Penn State to surge to victory. While Anderson isn't nearly the physical presence or shot-blocker that Muscala is, his mobility near the rim should still pose a threat to Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak.
Freshmen guards Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon have both been averaging double figures to start their careers--Hanlan, a two guard from North of the border, is shooting 47% from the floor and Rahon, the point guard, is averaging three and a half assists through six games. German sharpshooter Patrick Heckmann is connecting on over half of his three-point attempts so far this season. This is a backcourt that Penn State should be able to match up with even without the likes of Frazier, as the Eagles have averaged 13 turnovers per game (as has PSU). Defensively, it'll be interesting to see if Donahue dials up a full-court press against the Nittany Lions, who were able to handle Bucknell's attempts fairly well (only seven TOs) despite the lack of a true point guard.
Pat Chambers is hoping that freshman Brandon Taylor (still getting used to typing that with a 'y') will continue his hot shooting from Friday. The 6'8" forward went 4-8 from beyond the arc and was the only player that seemed capable of scoring for stretches. Look for Taylor to start again alongside Ross Travis and Graham in the frontcourt.
D.J. Newbill had a decent game in his full debut at the point against the Bison, scoring ten points to go along with seven assists. He was extremely adept at breaking down double teams and getting to the rim, so look for more of the same against a young BC team. Jermaine Marshall scored a then-career high 22 points in this fixture last season, so perhaps this matchup is just what he needs to raise his putrid 31% field goal percentage.
This is the penultimate tip of the Challenge, with Ohio State-Duke capping off what will be the last year of the event in its current form. The Big Ten leads the Challenge coming into Wednesday's games by a count of four wins to two (thanks Nebrasketball!). ESPNU has the TV coverage.
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