Penn State has confirmed that sophomore forward Mike Watkins will be unable to play in the Big Ten Tournament while recovering from a knee injury. This comes as a major blow for the Nittany Lions, who needed a strong showing in the conference tournament to have any hope of being selected for the NCAA Tournament.
Watkins has been out since injuring his knee early in the Nittany Lions penultimate regular season game against Michigan. Penn State would go on to lose that game, as well as the regular season finale against Nebraska with Watkins out of the lineup.
Watkins is one of the top defenders in the Big Ten, joining teammate Josh Reaves on the conference’s all-defensive first team. Opponents found success attacking the rim without Watkins in the lineup, resulting in a three-game skid to end the season after the Nittany Lions seemed poise to make a late run to make the tournament. Watkins was averaging 12.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and one steal per game as a sophomore.
Penn State will take on Northwestern at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament. The victor will play Ohio State on Friday.