|Who: Eastern Michigan Eagles (5-2)|
|When: Saturday, 12:00 PM ET|
|Where: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA|
|KenPom Rank: 143|
|Vegas Line: -2.5|
|Enemy Blog: Hustle Belt|
Eastern Michigan comes to Happy Valley tomorrow, seeking to catch off guard a Penn State still riding high from their road win at Boston College that helped the Big Ten win the B1G-ACC Challenge. PSU meanwhile, will be seeking its third straight win of this young 2015-16 season.
Scouting The Opposition
The Eagles come in sporting a 5-2 record that has been boosted by three wins over NAIA programs Siena Heights, Marygrove, and Madonna (I kid you not, there is a university in Michigan named Madonna). Their two wins over actual Division 1 programs were a twenty point win at home against Vermont and a seven point win on the road at Nebraska-Omaha. The lone power conference team they've played so far has been Michigan State, who obliterated the Eagles. Keep this in mind when realizing the fact that five players on Eastern Michigan's roster currently average double digits scoring per game. Point guard Raven Lee is arguably EMU's best player, averaging 17.5 points and five assists per game, and James Thompson IV currently averages a double-double with approximately 14 points and 11 boards along with over two blocks per game.
This is however, not a very offensively efficient team, ranking a dismal 325th in eFG% (42.8%) and 26.8% from 3-point range (good enough for 336th on KenPom). Defensively, they've been a little more stout, but also rank abysmally in the OReb% category (338th), meaning that opponents have destroyed EMU in rebounding, getting their share of offensive rebounds and second-chance scoring opportunities, which is certainly something one would hope to see PSU exploit on Saturday.
What To Watch For
Watch for the contrasting styles with regards to tempo and pace of play between the two teams. Pat Chambers prefers a slower, plodding, style with fewer possessions and it shows with PSU ranking 333rd in adjusted tempo, according to Kenpom. Meanwhile, EMU is a team that prefers to push the pace, ranking 73rd in adjusted tempo. Which ever team is better able to control the pace to their liking will have the upper hand in this one.
Much like Radford, this one has potential to be one of those trap games against a seemingly weaker opponent that ends up either being a too-close-for-comfort win or a WTF loss. However, I like the way PSU's defense has been playing as of late, and feel they can replicate the second half of the BC game enough to keep the Eagles at bay. Eastern Michigan has also gotten handled by teams with a pulse of any kind. Give me the good guys, 75-65.