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Penn State Basketball Preview: Colgate Raiders

Time for an easy win, am I right?

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

When we last left you, Penn State basketball was reminding us all of how soul crushing it can be in a 64-62 home loss to Indiana where the Nittany Lions failed to get a shot off despite inbounding below the baseline with 1.7 second remaining.

However, you all, like many of us, are sadists and have come back for more and more there shall be as Penn State welcomes Patriot League foe Colgate to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday.

Scouting the Opposition

Colgate has struggled early in the year, with losses coming to NJIT, Syracuse and most recently to South Florida.

The Raiders’ tempo-adjusted stats are not very pretty as they sit 148th in the country in AdjO and 196th in AdjD. They also don’t run a particularly quick tempo as their 69.1 (nice-ish) possessions per 40 minutes ranks just 235th in the nation.

All this comes against the 249th-best schedule thus far.

Which is all to say this really should be an easy win for Penn State. But of course nothing is ever easy for Penn State.

Sophomore guard Jordan Burns leads Colgate at 17.0 points per game on 47.6 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Burns is also a solid facilitator, averaging 4.5 assists per game.

Big man Rapolas Ivanauskas checks in behind Burns at 15.3 points per contest and, at 6-foot-10, has shown a nice ability to stretch opposing defenses. The junior is shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point land on 2.8 attempts per game.

What to Watch For

Will Mike Watkins be Mike Watkins? - Watkins, in his first games back from suspension, has understandably looked a step slow. That needs to end, and do so quickly, for the Nittany Lions has this season is already on the brink with the goal of an NCAA tournament bid slipping away with losses piling up. Ivanauskas will be a big factor for the Raiders. Watkins has to be the same for Penn State.

Josh Reaves on the offensive end - For all the talk about Josh Reaves being a potential NBA player, he’s going to have to show me something on the offensive end to back that talk up. Yes, Reaves is a fantastic defender who is instinctive and long. And yes, his 3-point shooting has improved, making him a potential 3-and-D prospect. But Reaves scored 3 points last game in the loss to Indiana. If he wants to land himself a spot in the NBA, he can’t be a complete non-factor on the offensive end.

Will talent win out? - Pat Chambers has undeniably been the best recruiter Penn State has had at the helm of its hoops program. And that talent has helped keep the Nittany Lions close in games with programs it otherwise hadn’t. But very rarely does Penn State, under Chambers, look like the far superior team in games where it does have much more talent. That will be the case on Saturday. Will it show?


Optimism and I don’t go together very well when it comes to Penn State hoops, but as I said above the Nittany Lions are infinitely more talented than the Raiders. Regardless of youth, Penn State should win this game comfortably.

Penn State 79, Colgate 65.