During the past month Pat Chambers squad has played the best basketball they have all season. Since starting 0-10 in Big Ten play, the Nittany Lions have gone 5-3. This includes exacting revenge over Nebraska and Maryland after losses to them earlier in the season. On Wednesday evening, the Nittany Lions will look to make Rutgers the next victims on their revenge tour.
On January 26th, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights came into the Bryce Jordan Center and defeated Penn State 64-60. Now, the Nittany Lions will travel to Piscataway and look to return the favor to the Scarlet Knights.
Scouting the opposition
Rutgers, like Penn State, leaves a lot to be desired as a basketball team. However, also like the Nittany Lions, the Scarlet Knights have played better basketball of late. Rutgers enters Wednesday’s contest winners of three of their last five contests, including an upset of no. 22 Iowa this past Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights are a team that, to put it lightly, struggles offensively. Rutgers is averaging just 68.1 points per game which ranks 289th nationally, while their 41.8% field goal percentage is 300th in the country.
Rutgers lacks any true scoring threats. Outside of Eugene Omoruyi (13.2 PPG) and Geo Baker (13.0 PPG) no one on their roster is averaging more than 9 points per game this season. Even if the Nittany Lions struggle offensively on Wednesday night, they should still be able to go score for score with Rutgers.
Defensively, the Scarlet Knights check in 89th nationally allowing 68.2 points per contest. One area where Rutgers has done a nice job this season is rebounding. They rank 28th nationally in rebounding, and they pulled in over 40 rebounds in their victory over the Nittany Lions in January.
What to watch for
Will Stevens bounce back? - It has been a largely inconsistent season for Nittany Lions star Lamar Stevens. Unsurprisingly, a driving force behind Penn Starte going 5-2 prior to Saturday’s loss against Wisconsin was Stevens playing his best basketball of the season. However, against the Badgers he was just 5/19 from the field. Stevens will be looking to bounce back against Rutgers on Wednesday night.
Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding - As we covered above, Rutgers is actually a good team on the boards. This will make the play of Mike Watkins and John Harrar important for the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night. Penn State must rebound the ball better than they did in their first match up against the Scarlet Knights.
The home crowd - It is no secret that Rutgers fans, students, and alumni do not like Penn State. At all. According to nj.com, Wednesday night’s game at The RAC is sold out. The Nittany Lions should expect a rowdy, hostile crowd on Wednesday night. How the Nittany Lions handle this hostile environment will go a long way toward determining which team walks away victorious.
While neither Penn State nor Rutgers are good basketball teams, the Nittany Lions are playing good basketball the past month. It will continue on Wednesday night in Piscataway.
Penn State 70, Rutgers 64