Fun Fact: Mike Watkins registered his first double-double in the game against Georgia Tech. It was the first double-double by a Penn State freshman since... Talor Battle.
(Anytime I can work Battle into the conversation, I will.)
|Who:||Wright State Raiders|
|When:||5:00 PM ET Saturday, December 3|
|Where:||Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA|
|Vegas Line:||Penn State -10|
The administration thankfully moved this game up from it’s originally slotted 6:30pm tip, to a more convenient 5pm start in order to avoid forcing fans into the tough choice of Wright State or Big Ten Championship Game...
Penn State will be looking to win their 4th straight game, and will try to continue to build momentum going into the conference schedule. Of the 5 remaining non-conference games, this one falls under the “must-win” category. Wright State will be the inferior team, but they do have four starters shooting at least 40 percent from 3-point range (!!!). This, combined with a lackluster crowd presence, could test the team early on. They’ll need to bring their own energy, and avoid falling into stagnation on offense.
Scouting the Opposition
The Raiders of Wright State made an interesting decision in the off-season, firing a head coach that took them to the Horizon League Conference Championship game. They hired Scott Nagy away from South Dakota State, where he was successful in transitioning the team from D-II to D-I hoops. So far this year, the team is 6-2, but Penn State will be their toughest opponent thus far.
As I mentioned, this team has plenty of quality 3-point shooters in the starting lineup. However, they struggle offensively at times without a solid PG to rely on to run the offense. Despite their penchant for knocking down 3’s, the Raiders do turn the ball over a fair amount, and Penn State should give them fits if they bring pressure on defense.
Mark Alstork is the name to know for this one. Although he’s the worst of the starters in 3-pt percentage (at 39.5% !!), he is 22nd in the nation in scoring. Alstork put up 39 points in Wright State’s loss to Toledo, and has the ability to carry the team offensively.
What to Watch For
Can Penn State shut down the Raiders on the perimeter? Games are rarely this simple, but it does seem to be the case for this one. With as many shooters as they have, Wright State is certain to get some open looks from 3-pt range, but Chambers’ squad should be able to win the match-ups in the other aspects of the game (rebounds, turnovers, inside scoring).
Wright State gets on a hot streak from 3-pt range at some point which will cause fans to start worrying, but the Nittany Lions will outlast it and come out with the win. Mike Watkins will come away with his second straight double-double. Reaves and Stevens help keep the intensity up with some emphatic finishes at the rim.
Penn State 85, Wright State 70