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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Travel to Champaign in Search of First Big Ten Win

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Can the Nittany Lions finally get off the schneid in conference play when they travel to Champaign?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 23 Penn State at Indiana Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following an 80-72 loss against Purdue on Sunday afternoon the Penn State Nit

tany Lions are now 3-5 overall this season and 0-4 in Big Ten play. Tuesday night the Nittany Lions will travel to the State Farm Arena is Champaign, Illinois, to battle the Fighting Illini.

In the first match up of the season between the two teams Illinois overcame a 15 point first half deficit to cruise past Penn State by a score of 98-81. The Nittany Lions earning their first conference win of the season on Tuesday night will be a lot easier said than done.

Even without the blowout that occurred the first two times these teams met, this is a match that appears to greatly favor Illinois in every category.

Scouting the Opposition

Even though Illinois has lost back-to-back games they remain one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Led by the dynamic Ayo Dosunmu, the Fighting Illini are averaging 83.1 points per game which is in the top 25 nationally and 2nd best in the Big Ten. Illinois is also a good defensive squad, allowing just 69.1 points per game.

The aforementioned Dosunmu is among the best players in the conference. He leads the Fighting Illini in points per game (22.4) and rebounds per game (4.9). He is shooting a career best 48.7% from the field this season, as well as a career best 41.7% from three point range.

Big man Kofi Cockburn is also a key cog for Illinois. The 7-foot, 285 pound sophomore is averaging 17.1 points and a team high 10.1 rebounds per game this season. He also leads the team in field goal percentage this season at 70.8%.

What to Watch For

In the first match up the duo fo Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili combined for 31 points nad 9 rebounds. What in the world are the Nittany Lions going to do to handle this duo inside? Opposing big men have been an issue for Penn State all season and that will likely continue on Tuesday night.

If the Nittany Lions are going to pull the upset they will likely need to get the three ball going. As a team Penn State is shooting a respectable 35.5% from three this season. If they are going to be able to score enough to keep up with the Illini, they are going to need to get three ball going.

Prediction

Illinois is an all-around better team than Penn State. A much better team in fact. The Fighting Illini pick up another easy victory as Penn State falls to 0-5 in conference play.

Illinois 87, Penn State 73