The first regular season of the Micah Shrewsberry Era in Happy Valley is set to come to an end on Sunday afternoon. Penn State will travel to Piscataway to play the Rutgers (17-12) in search of a season sweep of the Scarlet Knights.
Entering the game these are two teams heading in opposite directions. While the Scarlet Knights snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory last time out, they have still won 6 of their last 10 games and are fighting for a NCAA Tournament bid.
As for the Nittany Lions (12-15), while their first season with Shrewsberry at the helm has gone better than expected they are limping to the finish line. Penn State have lost back-to-back games and 6 of their last 9.
Scouting the Opposition
Rutgers is led by the duo of Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. For the season Harper Jr. is averaging 15.8 points per game while shooting 40% from three-point range. As for Baker, he is averaging 12.2 PPG. Both play an average of 33.8 minutes per game.
As a tea the Scarlet Knights are averaging 68.0 PPG which ranks 285th nationally. They shoot just 44.3% from the field, and 33.7% from three-point range. The will distribute the ball well offensively though, averaging 15 assists per game which ranks in the top 60 nationally.
Much like the Nittany Lions, defense has been the calling card for the Scarlet Knights this season. Rutgers is allowing just 65.4 PPG which ranks second in the Big Ten, just ahead of the Nittany Lions who are allowing 65.5 PPG.
What To Look For
When Penn State defeated Rutgers earlier this season a big factor was their ability to slowdown the scoring duo of Harper Jr. and Baker. If the Nittany Lions are going to pull the upset and sweep the season series they will need to do this once again.
As was mentioned above both of these teams are better defensively than offensively and are among the best defensive teams in the Big Ten. This could lead to a low scoring game on Sunday afternoon.
With this being the final game of the regular season it would not be a surprise to see the Nittany Lions played inspired basketball. Especially since they have most of the season. Do not be surprised to see the Nittany Lions come out and play like a team on a mission to finish the regular season strong in their first season playing for Shrewsberry.
It would be great to see the Nittany Lions pull the upset to end their regular season on a high note. That said, these appear to be two teams trending in opposite directions as the season comes to a close. Rutgers 66, Penn State 59