Black Shoe Diaries is a publication that writes about Penn State sports. To some, this makes the website a news publication, beholden to the same journalistic integrity commitments as other reputable news sources. To others, this is simply a fan blog where folks from different walks of life come together to discuss the many different sports teams the university they associate themselves with happens to sponsor.
As a result, the writers of this publication routinely walk that fine line between speaking to a broader audience looking for the news, and speaking to a more local audience looking for that sense of community we get from being familiar with each other through what binds us together.
That brings me to this here article. I have to writer a preview in the most robotic way I can muster, because the people reading may not view me as “Eli the fan,” but instead they might see me as “misdreavus79 the journalist.” I have to write about Iowa as if I didn’t already know what will happen a couple of hours from when this preview hits your screens. I have to go through the motions of previewing a game as if I didn’t watch the team go through three straight gut punches, three games where they could have easily won but didn’t, after another five that ended just the same way.
The reality is that, watching this Penn State basketball team play has been incredibility difficult as a fan. Seeing how talented this team is, seeing how easily they can play with the best of the conference, seeing how easily they dismantled the third best team in one of the premier conferences in college basketball earlier this season, then seeing how they lose excruciating game after excruciating game, well, it takes a toll on this allegedly impartial writer.
And if watching the team play takes such a toll on me, a mere writer, I can only imagine what kind of toll it takes on the players, who go out every day and put it all on the line, only to come just short time after time. That must be heartbreaking.
Scouting the Opposition
It can be easy to believe that Iowa is Luka Garza and his backup singers, but The Hawkeyes are just a tad more than that. They bring the No. 1 adjusted offense to this game, paired with a “better, but not that much better” adjusted defense at 89th.
Penn State, if you’re wondering, is 24th and 57th respectively in those categories. The numbers alone would indicate that the Nittany Lions should stay with the Hawkeyes on offense while being able to perform better defensively than other teams have, but the shooting night against Ohio State may have been the exception to a troubling rule: The Lions haven’t been shooting that well for a while now, and against a team that scores 27 points per minute, that spells a bunch of trouble.
Their best hope for a prayer is that, like Penn State, Iowa has a short bench and plays its starters a ton, so the Hawkeyes are tired too. Garza, Joe Wieskamp, Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, and CJ Fredrick all average over 20 minutes a game, with Garza averaging a hair over 30. Penn State, of course, has three guys averaging over 30 minutes a game in Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington, and Jamari Wheeler, and a couple of others in the 20s. If the Nittany Lions can be just a little bit less tired than the Hawkeyes, they might have a chance in this one. Otherwise, the barrage of threes and the imposing presence inside might be too much to overcome, from the get go.
What to Watch For
Hoping it’s not a blowout. That’s about all we can hope for at this point.
As I mentioned earlier, Iowa is wont to scoring 27 points per minute, and Penn State as of late has been very willing to let people score 27 points a minute. As a result, this will get ugly. Iowa 110, Penn State 85.