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Game 29: at Northwestern Preview

Seven days ago this seemed like a good chance to grab another Big Ten win. After Saturday's fiasco, maybe not so much.

Who: Northwestern Wildcats
When: Thursday, 7:00pm
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena

Well then. In the last week, Penn State has experienced their highest high and lowest low, beating a top-5 Michigan team at the BJC and subsequently getting their asses handed to them at The Barn three days later (highlights here, please remove your sunglasses before viewing). The Lions shot a measly 27% against Minnesota, throwing away weeks of offensive improvement in the build-up to the upset of the season. They'll have a good a chance to right the ship against a Northwestern team that has been exceedingly poor since Jared Swopshire went down with a season-ending knee injury.

It seemed like everything would be alright in the wake of Drew Crawford's own season-ending injury. The senior led the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg in ten games before the injury, but Northwestern was able to regroup and pull off some nice wins without Crawford. They went to Illinois' Assembly Hall and shocked the Illini 68-54, and a week later they beat a then 12th-ranked Minnesota 55-48. They managed to wrangle one more win against Purdue before the Swopshire injury, and from there it's been nothing but beatdowns for Bill Carmody's crew.

Reggie Hearn has been Northwestern's best offensive threat all season. The senior guard averages 13.5 ppg, leading a decrepit attack that hasn't reached the 60-point plateau in the last six games. Dave Sobolewski posts 10.3 ppg and 3.9 apg, and Tre Demps dot com (7.4 ppg) is capable of getting hot, but the Wildcats don't really feature any other players who can take over a game like D.J. Newbill or Jermaine Marshall. Depth is also an issue for the 'Cats--they're down to just seven scholarship players, giving Penn State an edge in that department for the first time this season.

The best thing Pat Chambers could have done in preparation for tonight's game would have been to hit everyone over the head with a 2x4 in the hopes of inducing short-term amnesia. I was unable to watch the Minnesota game, and thank science for that, because just seeing that box score--[shudders].

A letdown was to be expected after playing so well against Michigan, but 27% shooting from the field was worse than anyone could've anticipated. Newbill led the Lions with 15 points on 2-16 shooting (egads). The team went scoreless for an entire quarter of the game, registering their first points at the 8:42 mark in the first half. Hopefully, the four days of rest will enable Penn State to play closer to their pre-'Sota levels.

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