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Penn State vs. Iowa Preview: The D.J. Newbill Victory Lap

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Just go do ill stuff, D.J.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Iowa Hawkeyes (18-10, 9-6)
When: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: The Land of Lost Dreams, State College, PA
TV: ESPNU
KenPom Rank: 27
Vegas Line: Iowa -3 (via KenPom)
Enemy Blog: Black Heart Gold Pants

Let's face it: Penn State's season is, for all intents and purposes, over. The squad is on a D.J. Newbill victory lap right now, and with no postseason in sight barring something miraculous, that's ok. It really is. At this point, I just want D.J. to put up the silliest box scores possible, because he is a man who has nothing left to lose, and the next/probably final four games of his career should be fun. This season has turned into a series of moments in which we appreciate one of the best to ever play at Penn State, and we should cherish all of those moments, because in a few weeks, the career of one of a legitimately excellent college basketball player will come to an end.

The D.J. Newbill Going Away Tour starts this Saturday against Iowa in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Hawkeyes are one of the better offensive teams that Penn State will take on this year. There may be points. Lots of points. And for Penn State, those points will be scored by D.J. Newbill.

Scouting the Opposition

Iowa is longer than dinner with your significant other's family. Here are Iowa's five most frequently used lineups over the last five games, pay special attention to how tall everyone other than their point guards are:

This should present a really unique challenge for Penn State. The Nittany Lions aren't an especially huge team -- they frequently have a center who is 6'10" or taller and a bunch of players who are 6'7" or shorter on the court -- so this could get ugly. Or be weird. I don't know.

Iowa is especially strange because, last year, they were one of the fastest teams in college basketball. This year, Iowa is 236th in adjusted tempo in the country, but it is still one of America's best offenses, coming in at 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Hawkeyes are also averaging a very nice 69.1 points per game, which is 134th nationally.

The scariest thing about Iowa is that it can beat you in a number of ways. Most of the attention will go on senior forward Aaron White, who is a gifted offensive player as evidenced by his Offensive Rating of 124.8, which is 40th nationally. He can stretch the floor, get to the line (46th in America with 6.3 fouls drawn per 40) and generally kill you on the offensive end. White doesn't turn the ball over very often, and he's a great rebounder. He's going to be a huge problem.

Outside of White, Iowa has a loaded frontcourt. When he isn't poking people in the eye, Adam Woodbury is a legit seven footer who can maul people down low. Jarrod Uthoff is a 6'9" small forward who is hitting 39 percent of his threes and leads the team in blocked shots per game. Gabriel Olaseni is 46th in the country in block percentage, is a fiend on the offensive glass and is an efficient scorer in that he hits 55.3 percent of his shots from the field. He also gets to the line a lot and converts free throws at a 75.5 percent clip.

The weakness for Iowa is its backcourt. Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons are both really good distributors, but they proooooooobably won't kill anyone with their ability as scorers. I say "proooooooobably" because this is Penn State we're talking about and you should never expect that anything good will happen. Also: Peter Jok takes a lot of shots (192 this year, the third-most on the team) and doesn't hit too many of them, as he's hitting 37.5 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three. At least he's consistent.

What To Watch For

Watch how Penn State handles Iowa's length. Example: who is going to guard White? Logic would dictate that he is going to get the Ross Travis treatment all game, because Travis usually matches up with the other team's power forward. However, Iowa is a monstrous team, and if Chambers goes big -- which could be advantageous -- it's far more likely that Travis guards whoever is playing the three and Julian Moore or Donovon Jack takes White. This is a situation Penn State hasn't really been in this year, and I'm kind of looking forward to how PSU handles it.

One option is that Penn State goes zone. On the surface, this isn't a terrible idea, because Iowa can go ice cold from three and this would let the Nittany Lions pack it in and disrupt the Hawkeyes' big men. However, Iowa is a spectacular offensive rebounding team -- it is 37th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage -- and I'm skeptical as to whether Penn State can handle that.

Prediction

I have zero idea how Penn State is going to deal with Iowa's length. This is my biggest hangup with this game, along with, like, seven or eight other things (or, rather, all of the players on Penn State not named "D.J. Newbill"). But yeah, I think Iowa is a really talented, really well-coached (sometimes) basketball team who should be able to walk into the BJC and take care of a struggling Nittany Lion squad. Newbill does work, but give me Iowa, 80-66.