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Penn State vs. Cornell Preview: Tired Lions Try to Regroup Against The Big Red

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After a grueling double overtime loss to Charlotte in their opening game, Penn State will attempt to circle the wagons for a must-win battle against Cornell.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Cornell Big Red
When: Tonight, 9:00 PM ET
Where: TD Arena in Charleston, SC
TV: ESPN3 (online)
KenPom Rank: 298
Vegas Line: N/A
Enemy Blog: The Cornell Basketball Blog

Well, that was a fun little heartbreaking finish yesterday, wasn't it? A little over 24 hours after furiously rallying from 17 points down only to lose in double overtime to Charlotte, Penn State will be seeking to get to 1-1 in the Charleston Classic with a golden opportunity against a flailing Cornell team that was easily dispatched by South Carolina in their first game last night, 69-45.

Scouting The Opposition

Cornell is simply put, not very good at this basketball thing. In fact, they're coming off a 2-26 campaign from a year ago. Bill Courtney returns for his fifth season as head coach, which tells you just how undesirable a job like Cornell (or most other Ivy League coaching jobs, for that matter) is. If he was coaching in almost any other league, Courtney would have been replaced after last season's dismal mark.

Oh sure, they've got a player or two to look out for. Namely, guard Devin Cherry, who scored 8 points, grabbed five rebounds, and a pair of steals (he did however, also commit seven turnovers, himself) and 6'7" small forward Shonn Miller who has potential to be a scoring and rebounding force. However, this is a team that struggles to maintain possession and their weaknesses reared their ugly head against South Carolina, as they turned it over a grand total of 17 times. This is why it's not surprise that according to Kenpom, the Big Red are rated 282nd in offensive efficiency (94%) and 301st in defensive efficiency (103.5%).

What To Watch For

Penn State's legs. More specifically, D.J. Newbill's legs after seeing 50 minutes of action last night while scoring a career-high 35 points. If the players are still gassed from yesterday's game, then this game could very well end up being too close for comfort. Also of importance is to see if the PSU big men can stay out of foul trouble and assert their will in the paint on both ends of the floor, as they had issues with boxing out against Charlotte's bigs last night.

Prediction

The worst part of losing to Charlotte was that it meant Penn State would end up playing a Cornell team that is likely to finish with a sub-250 RPI come March. While being squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble may seem like a pipe dream at the moment, if PSU does manage to find itself in such a situation, this will be an opponent that will bring down its strength of schedule, which is one of several key factors the selection committee considers. That being said, this is an absolute must-win game for the Nittany Lions in order to salvage something from this tournament. I can see another sluggish start to the game but PSU's talent and depth advantages should be enough to get them over the top, fatigue or no fatigue. Give me PSU 68-59.