|Indiana Hoosiers (14-9, 4-6)
Penn State hits the road again after a quick and unsuccessful home stop in which they squandered away another lead, this time against Illinois. The Lions will look to redeem themselves with a second B1G road win of the season, though Indiana has already proven their superiority over PSU via a 79-76 victory in State College back in early January.
Scouting The Opposition
Freshman Noah Vonleh gave the Nittany Lion frontcourt major issues in the first meeting, going for a career-high 19 points including two three-pointers. His presence led to Donovon Jack seeing just 12 minutes due to foul trouble, and the same could be said for the impact that Yogi Ferrell had on Tim Frazier, who also fouled out. Ferrell isn't as consistent as some of the conference's other top players but when he's on his game he's borderline unplayable. Just ask Michigan, whom Ferrell torched for 27 points on 7-8 shooting from behind the arc. The key to stopping IU might be to limit everyone else's scoring; in their win in State College, six players in the candy-striped warmups tallied eight or more points.
Indiana does turn the ball over at an alarming rate (22.8% of their possessions have ended in a turnover in conference play), so Penn State's guards will have the opportunity to run if the Hoosiers get careless in possession. As we saw on Sunday, the Nittany Lion offense is anything but reliable in the halfcourt.
Containing Vonleh would go a long way towards keeping the Hoosiers from blowing this one open. He usually commands double teams which lead to open looks for his teammates. Pat Chambers might want to think about throwing Jordan Dickerson on him when Penn State goes man to man - the Nittany Lions are much more capable on offense with Jack in the game, so this might be a good opportunity to see them on the floor together. Then again, neither of the two rebound particularly well, and Vonleh is one of the conference's best (12.3% OReb rate). Expect to see zone whenever Penn State can afford to play it (i.e., Indiana isn't making every three they take).
It's such a tough matchup for Penn State, especially considering the venue. They did well to just miss on forcing overtime in the first meeting because Indiana played some strong basketball in that second half and the Nittany Lions battled back. Chambers has shown his team can win on the road against a quality opponent, but Indiana has too much firepower and PSU hasn't looked capable of putting up big offensive numbers since conference play began. I like the Hoosiers to win and cover, 74-65.