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Big Ten Tournament, First Round: Penn State vs Nebraska

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Penn State and Nebraska open up Big Ten Tournament play at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State and Nebraska will meet for the second time this season, and for the second time as Wednesday participants in the Big Ten tournament. The last time these two teams met the Cornhuskers put on a show on their home court. Since then, they’ve been on a similar skid as Penn State, oftentimes looking much worse than the Nittany Lions in the process.

Tournament Profile: Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Record: 12-18, 6-12 Big Ten
  • Big Ten Standing: 12th
  • Kenpom Rank: 105
  • RPI: 92
  • Season Series: February 14th; Nebraska 82, Penn State 66 (Lincoln, NE)
  • Game Info: 4:30 PM EST, ESPN2
  • Vegas Line: Penn State -2 -3

Nebraska is coming off their worst home loss ever at the hands of Michigan. Outside of a game at Ohio State, where they took the one-point win, the Cornhuskers have lost every game by an average of 20 points (15 if you remove the Michigan game). The return of Ed Morrow proved to be useful against other bottom teams, but when facing the top half of the conference and Illinois, Nebraska had no answer.

Another thing that goes against Nebraska in this game is that they have yet to beat the Nittany Lions outside of Lincoln since Pinnacle Bank Arena was opened in 2013. Penn State is 4-0 against Nebraska outside of Lincoln since the 2013-14 season.

Penn State, on the other hand, has been a mixed bag themselves. They’ve played well enough to keep some games close in their recent five-game skid, but have continually found ways to lose games that were well within their grasp. The mental state of this team will have a big say on how they perform in the tournament, and a team that may be ready to pack it in for the season may end up lacking the effort necessary to make a run.

Needless to say, if Penn State wants to win this game, they need to avoid the easy baskets inside they allowed the last time they met Nebraska. Their acrobatic shots won’t fall at the Verizon center, so if the Lions can prevent easy looks and force Nebraska to beat them from outside, the game will be even throughout.

Prediction

There’s little evidence that Nebraska will have the same type of performance against Penn State outside of Lincoln. It’s been five years since their last win outside of the friendly confines of their home court. That doesn’t mean Nebraska won’t put up a fight. Tim Miles may be coaching for his job, while Pat Chambers will be doing so for an extension.
Penn State 67, Nebraska 65.