Under the guidance of first year head coach Micah Shrewsberry the Penn State Nittany Lions have battled all season long. Despite injuries and COVID issues, the preseason predicted bottom dwellers find themselves at 4-6 in the Big Ten, and 9-9 overall.
The Nittany Lions have bounced back every time they have faced adversity. The latest came earlier this week when they rebounded from back-to-back blowout losses, one of which came against Iowa, but upsetting the Iowa Hawkeyes in double overtime at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Next up is a challenging task against the no. 11 Wisconsin Badgers. Greg Gard’s squad enters the game at 17-4 overall on the season, 8-3 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will be outmanned and, potentially, overmatched on Saturday evening. That said, there have been other times this season that has been the case and the Nittany Lions have still walked away with either a win or a close, hard fought loss.
Scouting The Opposition
The Badgers are led by one of the best players not just in the conference, but the entire country in Johnny Davis. His 21.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game all lead the way for the Badgers. He is shooting 41% from the field and plays 34.2 minutes per game. His 21.4 PPG ranks 8th nationally and is tops in the Big Ten.
The success of the Nittany Lions will hinge largely on their ability to contain Davis. Brad Davison averages 15.2 PPG and can also be a scoring threat for the Badgers, but their offense runs through Davis.
The Nittany Lions will need to clean up on the boards in this game. John Harrer has been one of the best rebounders in the Big Ten this season and that will need to continue. The Nittany Lions can not give the Badgers second change opportunities.
What to Watch For
Will Penn State’s defensive prowess continue? - Outside of Penn State circles the Nittany Lions defense has not gotten the love it deserves this season. The Nittany Lions are allowing just 66.6 points per game, which is 5th best in the Big Ten. Prior to allowing 86 to Iowa earlier this week the Nittany Lions had held their previous seven opponents below their PPG average, and the only reason the Hawkeyes surpassed their PPG average was due to the game going to double overtime.
Seth Lundy vs Johnny Davis - If Penn State is going to have another strong defensive game it will start with Seth Lundy stepping up defensively once again. This season Lundy has been a tremendous defender who has gone toe-to-toe with some of the best players Penn State has faced. He has a tall order ahead of him on Saturday evening with Davis, but if Lundy can contain the Big Ten Player of the Year contender the Nittany Lions can turn this into a low scoring defensive fight and give themselves a chance.
Anyone who thinks Penn State will do anything other than fight their tails off is insane. The way these players have responded to Coach Shrews and his staff has been impressive. The culture Shrews and company have already cultivated is even more impressive. That said, Wisconsin is the more talented team and the Kohl Center is a tough place to play. The Nittany Lions play hard but come up short. Wisconsin 73, Penn State 63