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Penn State vs Miami Preview: Nittany Lions Prepare for Big Ten/ACC Battle Showdown

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The Nittany Lions are set to host the Miami Hurricanes as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 02 Purdue at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a battle of 4 win squads the 4-2 Penn State Nittany Lions wills welcome the 4-3 Miami Hurricanes to the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Nittany Lions are coming off a strong showing at the Emerald Coast Classic in which they took a heavily favored LSU team to the wire before falling in overtime and then pounding the Oregon State Beavers.

Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes are off to a sluggish start already having suffered losses against UCF, Dayton and Alabama. These three losses have come by an average of 14.7 points per game. This is a Hurricanes squad that was voted to finish 12th in the ACC in the preseason.

All signs point toward this being the fourth consecutive season in which the Hurricanes have missed the postseason after going dancing in each of the previous four seasons. This is a Hurricanes squad the Nittany Lions are more than capable of defeating.

Scouting The Opposition

Entering this game the Hurricanes are averaging 73.3 points per game which ranks 178th nationally. Their 74.6 points against per game checks in at 283rd nationally. So, the Hurricanes enter this game as a team that is not excelling offensively or defensively.

Miami is shooting 45.5% as a team from the field which is 137th nationally, while their 27.1% three-point field goal percentage is 334th out of 350 Division 1 programs. With the Nittany Lions shooting 38.5% from three-point range that could prove to be a big difference in this matchup.

Miami’s leading scorer is Kameron McGusty who is averaging 17.6 PPG. Isaiah Wong (15.6 PPG) and Charlie Moore (10.7 PPG) are also averaging in double digits for the Hurricanes this season.

What To Watch For

This could be a big game for John Harrar. The two tallest players on Miami’s roster, Rodney Miller (7-foot-1) and Deng Gak (6-foot-11) combined to average just 11.6 minutes per game. The two also combine for just 1.5 rebounds per game.

6-foot-10 Sam Waardenburg serves as Miami’s big man most of the time. In 25.3 minutes per game Waardenburg is averaging 3.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. So he is far from a dominating force inside.

As for Harrar, he is averaging 9.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Early on in the 2021-2022 season Harrar has been one of the best rebounders in the Big Ten. In the past Harrar has been able to take advantage against teams who do not have a true big man that plays big minutes. This could be the case again on Wednesday night.

As a team Miami averages just 31.7 rebounds per game which ranks 317th nationally. The Hurricanes rank 287th nationally wit ha rebounding margin of -2, while the Nittany Lions check in at 88th nationally at +5. Penn State should be able to clean up the board on Wednesday night.

Prediction

The Nittany Lions are playing strong basketball right now. Since being blowout by UMASS they are 3-1, including a come from behind victory over Cornell, with that lone loss being the aforementioned overtime loss against a good LSU team. Penn State continues to play well and gets the job done on Wednesday night. Penn State 70, Miami 64