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Penn State Basketball Preview: The Nittany Lions Travel to Ohio State

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Penn State travels to Columbus to face an Ohio State team rich in talent, but short on experience.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Ohio State Buckeyes (12-8, 4-3)
When: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Value City Arena
TV: BTN
KenPom Rank: 78
Vegas Line: Ohio State -8.5
Enemy Blog: Land Grant Holy Land

Penn State will find itself in another "winnable game, better opponent" situation against Ohio State on Monday night. The Buckeyes have been the definition of inconsistent this season. They beat Kentucky on a neutral floor, yet they lost to Louisiana Tech and UT-Arlington at home. They reeled off three wins to start the Big Ten season, then have lost in blowout fashion to the better teams in the Big Ten. Ohio State has the talent to compete with anyone in the Big Ten, but that talent is young, which leads to these inconsistent results.

Scouting The Opposition

Unlike the previous opponents Penn State has faced so far, Ohio State is full of youth. Leading the charge is Marc Loving, the only significant contributor with junior eligibility or higher. Loving is averaging 13.7 points per game and has an 48.9 eFG%, but he's not the most effective player on Ohio State's roster. That honor goes to Kam Williams, who is shooting 49.2% from three this season. The perimeter-challenged Lions will need to keep Williams at bay if they don't want to find themselves in a huge hole early.

The good news is that Ohio State as a team is only shooting 33.9% from three, so if they are able to keep the ball out of Williams' hands while avoiding fouls inside, Penn State will have a much easier time keeping pace with the Buckeyes.

What To Watch For

Ohio State is a team that likes to push the tempo. Penn State will need to play their own game to ensure things don't get out of hand quickly. The bigs will need to establish position early, making easy shots inside due to their slight height advantage. On defense, they need to force the ball out on the perimeter, limit second-chance opportunities, and force turnovers, something the Buckeyes have struggled with all season

Prediction

I see the game going Penn State's way early. Ohio State turns the ball over a few times, which allows for the Lions to build an early lead and keep the game close in the first half. The Buckeyes blow the game open halfway throughout the second half, and they run away with the game. Ohio State 78, Penn State 54