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Penn State at Indiana Preview: Opportunity is Knocking at the Door

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Penn State has a chance to steal a road-win versus a decimated Indiana squad.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent Summary

Who When: Where: TV: KenPom Rank: Record: Vegas Line:
Who When: Where: TV: KenPom Rank: Record: Vegas Line:
Indiana Hoosiers 6:30 PM EST, Wednesday, Februrary 1 Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Indiana) BTN 39 14-8, 4-5 Big Ten tba

Penn State gets a second crack at Indiana on Wednesday, and this time the Hoosiers are just a little more depleted than the squad they faced two weeks ago. As one might remember, the Hoosiers needed James Blackmon Jr.’s last second heroics to beat the Nittany Lions last time out, but Blackmon Jr. won’t be available to save an Indiana squad looking for production. This is as good an opportunity as Penn State will get to snatch another road victory against a team that, even while depleted, is still one of the better teams in the conference.

Scouting the Opposition

As mentioned above, this won’t look like the same Indiana team that came into State College two weeks ago and won on a Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beater. Following a season-ending injury to OG Anunoby against Penn State, the Hoosiers lost star guard Blackmon in their loss at Michigan last week. Blackmon is out indefinitely, and missed Sunday’s loss to Northwestern.

If Blackmon remains sidelined expect the Hoosiers to rely (even more) heavily on Thomas Bryant. Robert Johnson had a 17-pt performance the last time he played Penn State, and will need to provide a similar offensive boost in Blackmon’s absence. He’ll also need help from Josh Newkirk and Devonte Green to knock down enough shots to keep the defense from collapsing around Bryant in the paint.

What to Watch For

I’m sorry if you’ve heard this before, but it will be crucial for Mike Watkins to avoid getting into foul trouble early. Especially when it comes to limiting second-chance scoring opportunities, Watkins’ rebounding abilities do Penn State no good when he’s on the bench. I’m confident that the pair of Watkins and Julian Moore can limit Bryant enough that someone else is forced to win the game for Indiana, and I like their chances if they can do that.

The wild inconsistency of this team was on full display in their last two games with Jekyll and Hyde performances in the first and second halves. Now the young team will be faced with another difficult test on the road. A return-to-form from Lamar Stevens would help take the load off Tony Carr, and help the Penn State breakdown Indiana’s defense from the inside-out.

Prediction

Indiana escaped with a last-second win the first time these teams met this year, and with home-court advantage on Wednesday, they seemed poised to sweep the season series. However the recent injury to Blackmon Jr. changes things, and I think Penn State will be able to come away with the win. Stevens breaks out of his slump, and reminds Indiana why they offered him a scholarship.

Penn State 79, Indiana 73