Scouting The Opposition
The Buckeyes come into Sunday’s game after a 78-68 loss in Madison. E.J. Liddell leads the team with just under 20 points and seven rebounds per game. The junior forward shoots over 50% from the field and nearly 40% from three-point range. In the Buckeyes’ 76-64 win in Happy Valley, Liddell had 14 points and five rebounds.
As a team, Ohio State is actually relatively sloppy with the ball, with a -2 turnover differential, but this is perhaps offset by their 48% field goal shooting as a team (In contrast, Penn State shoots around 45%). Their balance is one of their biggest assets, with five players scoring in double figures in the loss to Wisconsin.
What To Watch For
Will Jamari Wheeler have an impact in the final result? The Penn State transfer had nine points, eight assists, five rebounds, and three steals in the teams’ last meeting, and may feel less pressure to perform at home, rather than at the BJC. It will also be interesting to see what happens if Ohio State jumps out to another large lead, after they blew an 18-point lead in the second half and led by six late before separating themselves. This is certainly a more consistent Nittany Lion squad than in early December.
Even though Penn State is much improved from their last meeting, it remains to be seen whether they can not just consistently compete, but ultimately conquer their opponents on the road. Bench production will be critical in this game; in the previous meeting, OSU out-scored the Nittany Lions 29-5 off of their bench. The Nittany Lions make it close, but not close enough.
Ohio State 74, Penn State 70
(Hey, maybe this’ll be two previews in a row where I predict a loss and am wrong!)