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Penn State at Drexel Preview: Struggling Dragons Still Pose Threat

Penn State has a decent shot at moving to 8-3, but the 1-7 Dragons shouldn't be underestimated.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Drexel Dragons (1-7)
When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: The Palestra
Stream: Dragons TV
KenPom Rank: 215
KenPom Line: Drexel -1

After a couple of uneasy victories at Rec Hall last week, Penn State could very well be experiencing some déjà vu this weekend against Drexel. For starters, the former home of the Nittany Lions was architecturally inspired by the site of Saturday's game, the famous Palestra. More importantly, Drexel is an injury-ridden outfit that is still capable of putting it together on a given night - not unlike the Majok Deng-less Louisiana-Monroe team that nearly gave PSU some miserable flashbacks.

Scouting The Opposition

Bruiser Flint's squad has taken some hits in the past few seasons. Between the perpetual injuries to the highly-rated Major Canady and the sudden departure of stud wing Damion Lee (now one-half of the Louisville backcourt along with Penn State and Cleveland State transfer Trey Lewis), Flint has had to deal with some rough luck.

That luck also extends to his current roster, a roster which essentially forces Flint's hand into featuring one of the nation's least-efficient scorers as a primary option on offense. Tavon Allen shot 28% from three last season on a stunning 152 attempts. He wasn't much better inside the arc, either, shooting just 39% on twos in 2015. Unfortunately for Drexel, he's one of the few Dragons capable, however inefficiently, of putting the ball in the hoop. He and Roman Catholic product Rashann London lead the team at 15.5 and 11 points per game, respectively.

Perhaps the lone bright spot for Flint in this dismal early campaign has been the play of freshman Terrell Allen (no relation to Tavon). The DeMatha Catholic alum is one of the better freshman passers in the nation, tallying an assist on 27.8% of possessions for which he's on the floor. For comparison's sake, Shep Garner only assists a made bucket on 19.3% of his possessions, and he's on the floor for nearly 35 minutes a night.

What To Watch For

If there's one thing that Drexel has been especially inept at this season, it's been their inability to defend without fouling. The Dragons are the second-worst team in the entire nation in defensive free throw rate. Individually, London and Terrell Allen are the only two players seeing significant minutes that foul fewer than four times per 40 minutes. If you plan on attending this affair and sticking it out to the final whistle, I suggest you don't make plans within three hours of the opening tip - Penn State, of course, has had its fair share of fouling issues this season, so the Palestra might be in for one hell of a rock fight.

Prediction

Drexel is kind of a mess right now, but Penn State has yet to show that they can beat bad teams convincingly, much less actually win on the road against a sub-standard opponent. The Dragons nearly stole victory from the hands of defeat a year ago in Allentown, but without Lee and D.J. Newbill on the floor neither team has a whole lot going for it on offense. I'll take the good guys in a tight one, but only because Penn State has more Philly players on its roster. Penn State 67, Drexel 61.