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Penn State at Northwestern: Nittany Lions Look For Back-to-Back Big Ten Victories

Can the Nittany Lions knock off the Wildcats on Wednesday night for their second consecutive Big Ten victory?

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

After upsetting Indiana 61-58 over the weekend the Nittany Lions return to the court on Wednesday night. Owning a 6-5 overall record, 1-2 in Big Ten play, Micah Shrewsberry is preparing to lead his team into what will be one of their toughest defensive matchups of the season when they battle the Northwestern Wildcats.

Scouting The Opposition

Due to COVID, Northwestern will enter Wednesday night’s matchup having played just twice in the last 24 days. They most recently played this past Sunday, suffering a 73-67 loss to no. 10 Michigan State.

The Wildcats enter the game with an overall record of 8-3, sitting at 1-1 in Big Ten play. Prior to this past Sunday’s loss agains the Spartans, Northwestern was previously undefeated at home this season.

Northwestern is a very good defensive squad. The Wildcats rank 8th nationally in field goal percentage defense, allowing opposing teams to sink just 37% of their shots this season. Their 29.7 defensive rebounds per game ranks 11th nationally. Chris Collins squad is allowing just 61.9 points per game ranks 48th nationally and 2nd in the Big Ten.

Offensively, the Wildcats are averaging 77.9 PPG and are led by senior Pete Nance who is averaging 16.0 PPG. Boo Buie (14.6 PPG), Chase Audige (11.3 PPG), and Ryan Young (10.6 PG) are all averaging in double digits as well.

What To Watch For

Can the Nittany Lions get any offense going against the Wildcats? Offensively the Nittany Lions have had plenty of struggles at times this season and the Wildcats are one of the best defensive teams they will face all season.

If there is one area the Wildcats are vulnerable defensively it is against the three-point shot. Opposing teams have shot 34.5% from three against Northwestern this season which ranks 265 nationally.

Sam Sessoms (45.2%), Myles Dread (39.3%), Seth Lundy (34.3%), and Jalen Pickett (32.1%) have all found success from behind the arc this season. In order for the Nittany Lions to pull their second consecutive Big Ten upset they may need the three-point game to get going.

Rebounding should also play a large role in this game. As we discussed above the Wildcats are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. John Harrar is the best rebounder in the Big Ten. Something will have to give in that battle.

Prediction

It would be great to see the Nittany Lions pick up their second consecutive conference victory/upset. That said, it’s hard to envision the Nittany Lions getting enough offense going on Wednesday night. Northwestern 68, Penn State 60