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Penn State Basketball Preview: Nittany Lions to Host Minnesota on Senior Night

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Can the Nittany Lions snap their two-game losing streak and send their seniors out with a win on senior night?

Seton Hall v Penn State Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Since deafeating Maryland to improve to 7-8 on the season, the bottom has fallen out for the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Nittany Lions have lost five of six since defeating the Terps, falling to 8-13 on the season. This includes a poor 5-12 mark in Big Ten play.

Tuesday night the Nittany Lions will play their penultimate game of the wild 2020-2021 regular season. This will also be the final home game of the regular season, marking the likely final game at the Bryce Jordan Center for seniors Jamari Wheeler, John Harrar and Trent Buttrick.

Scouting the Opposition

Minnesota’s 73.7 points per game ranks 131st nationally. Their offensive struggles have stemmed from being one of the worst shooting teams in the country. The Golden Gophers rank 319th nationally in field goal percentage (39.9%) and 329th in three-point field goal percentage (28.9%).

Minnesota’s leading scorer is guard Marcus Carr. The Canadian junior is averaging 20.0 PPG this season, while shooting 33.5% from three-point range and playing an averaging of 35.4 minutes per game.

Carr is the catalyst and the workhorse for the Golden Gophers. If Penn State can contain Carr on Tuesday night, Minnesota will be in a lot of trouble. Next to Carr, the leading scorer for the Golden Gophers is Laim Robbins who averages just 11.7 PPG, no other Minnesota player is averaging more than 9.2 PPG this season. Furthermore, Gabe Kalscheur is the only other Golden Gopher averaging more than 30 minutes per game than Carr.

What to Watch For

The motivation level for each of these teams will be something to watch. Barring an unlikely run to a Big Ten Tournament Championship, neither team has any shot at making the NCAA Tournament. It’s been a long, weird and difficult season with COVID protocols, testing, etc. Both teams may just be ready to be done.

There are also plenty of questions surrounding the Nittany Lion program entering the offseason. Hopefully, being the home team on senior night will give the Nittany Lions a little extra fire that the Golden Gophers may be lacking.

Prediction

Even though they have the better record, Minnesota is not necesarrily a better team then Penn State. The Nittany Lions come away with the win in their season finale at the BJC. Penn State 73, Minnesota 70