After a more-dramatic-than-it-probably-should’ve-been win over Iowa, Penn State sits in a good spot in the Big Ten standings at 2-1 in conference play, 11-3 overall, and currently projected as one of the “Last 4 In” in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. Awaiting them tonight is another golden opportunity to pad their NCAA Tournament resume with a road contest at Michigan.
Scouting The Opposition
7-foot center Hunter Dickinson is as vital to Michigan as Jalen Pickett is to Penn State, averaging nearly 19 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He put up a monster double-double of 32 points and 12 boards the other night in Michigan’s 81-46 drubbing of Maryland. Guards Jett Howard (14.6 ppg) and Kobe Bufkin (12.1 ppg) also average double figures scoring for the Wolverines. They also rank second overall in KenPom in offensive turnover percentage, with only (wait for it...) Penn State ahead of them in first. Much like PSU, the Wolverines also don’t generate a ton of steals/turnovers but rather rely on playing sound defense for 30 seconds and trying to force you into taking a bad shot.
What To Watch For
Which Michigan team will show up: The one that obliterated Maryland, or the one that lost to Central Michigan? This will depend a lot on how well Penn State contains Dickinson. If Dickinson is allowed to assert his will and operate freely in the paint, it’s going to be a long evening in Ann Arbor for the Shrews Crew.
Penn State is a team that is capable of knocking off just about anyone on any given night, but winning on the road in the Big Ten is always a tall task. The Lions will prove to be a more formidable opponent for Michigan, and while I don’t think Dickinson will repeat his 32-12 stat line from the other night, he will still have himself another big night against a PSU team that lacks a strong post presence, which will make the difference in this one.
Michigan 72, Penn State 66