After a three-game stretch of easier non-conference opponents, Penn State now goes full bore into Big Ten action, as they will tip off the new year with a home date against Iowa. The Hawkeyes will be limping into Happy Valley on the heels of back-to-back losses which included an inexplicable loss at home as a 30.5-point favorite to Eastern Illinois and getting waxed on the road at Nebraska, scoring only 50 points in the process. Needless to say, this is a golden opportunity for the Nittany Lions to string together back-to-back conference wins and get their Big Ten record above .500 for the first time this season.
Scouting The Opposition
Iowa ranks a solid 23rd on KenPom in adjusted offensive efficiency but a paltry 101st in adjusted defensive efficiency. Forward Kris Murray averages nearly a double-double (19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds) per game and is also the team’s most efficient three-point shooter (20-for-53, or 38 percent). Forward Filip Rebraca also has put up strong scoring and rebounding numbers (14.2 ppg and 8.7 rpg) for the Hawkeyes. Forward Patrick McCaffrey (13.4 ppg) and guard Tony Perkins (10.8 ppg) also average double figures scoring.
What To Watch For
Can Penn State do a better job on the defensive glass? The last couple of games, they have given up more offensive rebounds than you’d like to see against Delaware State and Quinnipiac. As much as Iowa has struggled lately, the last you thing want is to give a team numerous second chances to re-discover their offensive touch. Also, let’s hope that PSU saved their three-point efficiency for today’s game, because going 9-for-36 (25 percent) ain’t gonna cut it against most Big Ten teams. Perhaps Iowa may be one of the exceptions, but I’d rather not find out.
Penn State is a team harboring serious NCAA Tournament hopes and in order to keep it that way, they absolutely must take down a reeling Iowa team in the friendly confines of the BJC. Unlike the Michigan State game last month, they will not let this opportunity slip by. Also, look for the Lions heat up from downtown, as no team stays cold forever.
Penn State 77, Iowa 69