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Penn State vs. Iowa Preview: Lions Gets Return Visit From Big Ten Leaders

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Penn State gets a return visit from No. 4 Iowa, who are currently in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Can Penn State knock off two ranked teams at home, back-to-back?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-3)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: BTN
KenPom Rank: 5
Vegas Line: Iowa -10
Enemy Blog: Black Heart Gold Pants

Penn State gets a return visit from Big Ten-leading Iowa, exactly two weeks after the Lions played them at Carver-Hawkeye arena. The team will be looking to forget that massacre and channel some of the energy they had against the other (at the time) leading Big Ten team to visit Bryce Jordan Center. With Indiana's road loss to Michigan State and Maryland's loss at the hands of Wisconsin, Iowa finds itself in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. They also happen to have the easiest remaining schedule of the three.

Scouting The Opposition

Not much has changed from our original scouting report, except for one thing: Iowa has finally looked human in a few of their games. Jared Uthoff is "only" shooting 42.6% from three now, as opposed to the 46% he was shooting two weeks ago (their team percentage dropped a whopping percentage point, from 40% to 39%), while their offensive efficiency as a team is "only" 9th in the nation now as opposed to 6th.

While their numbers may have dipped a slight bit as a team, the importance of their two main leaders has increased over the past three games. Peter Jok has continued to score in bunches, coming off a 24-point game against Illinois, and a 27-point outing in their last game, against Minnesota. Uthoff has contunued take over games, especially in the scare against aforementioned Minnesota. Penn State's strategy should be to limit these two guys as much as possible and make it so the rest of the team has to beat them.

What To Watch For

As mentioned before, Iowa has looked human over the past few games. They "only" beat Illinois by 12 on a late surge. They found themselves down 16 at a point in their loss against Indiana, and were fortunate to escape with a win at home against Minnesota. The key ingredient in each performance has been the other team's ability to keep pace with Iowa, but also being efficient with the ball. The Lions don't have much of a problem turning the ball over, so if they're able to slow the game down this time around and limit Iowa to one-and-done possesions offensively, it will be a matter of actually making their shots in order to stand a chance.

Offensively, Penn State needs to get the ball inside and force Adam Woodbury out of the game (he's coming off two straight 3+ foul games), which would allow guys like Shep Garner to find their groove once again. It's highly unlikely that Penn State goes 1-20 from three as a team again, but highly imperative that they don't settle for ill-advised shots. If the team is able to shoot at a decent rate, they should have a chance to keep pace with the Hawkeyes.

This may sound counter-productive, but they need to force Iowa outside on defense. The longer the big men can stay in the game without any foul trouble, the better it will be in the long term. Having Josh Reaves back will allow the defense to do a better job in the perimeter, and will force the Hawkeyes to have a hot shooting night from three in order to put Penn State away.

Prediction

Barring an out-of-this-world performance from Penn State, there are two scenarios that bode well for the Lions coming into this game: 1) Iowa rests in their laurels given their recent blowout victory, and 2) Iowa is already looking at their tipoff against Wisconsin next week. If either of these two take place, Penn State has a chance. If both happen, the Lions could even win the game. There's a good chance neither of those happen, and Penn State will have to have said out-of-this-world performance in order to come a way with a win.

I don't think Penn State performs as awfully as they did two weeks ago, but too many things have to go right for them (and wrong for Iowa) in order for them to even have a chance in this game. They'll decrease the margin, but it'll be a blowout nonetheless. Iowa 89, Penn State 69