Just when you think you’re out, they pull you right back in.
Penn State men’s basketball is coming in hot off a thrilling comeback win over Ohio State, and the pendulum is suddenly swinging back in the Nittany Lions’ direction. Now, they head to the world’s most famous arena threatening to go on an early season run.
Penn State has a stretch of three non-conference games before it gets immersed in Big Ten play, and this will be the toughest of the triplet. Both teams, with first-year head coaches in tow, have a bit to prove against each other. But, a neutral-site game (well, it’s going to feel like a home game for Penn State) after some time off for final exams means it’s anyone’s game.
This will be the Nittany Lions’ first time back in Madison Square Garden since its 2018 NIT Championship-clinching win over Utah. Should Penn State win, it would be its first victory at not the Bryce Jordan Center this year.
Scouting the Opposition
Georgia Tech, like Penn State, has not won a game away from home this season. Damon Stoudamire took over as head coach this offseason after a two-year stint as an assistant with the Boston Celtics. He’s already picked up two marquee wins for the Yellow Jackets, taking down Duke and Mississippi State.
Miles Kelly is the star of the show on offense, averaging 17 points per game this year. The only other Georgia Tech player with a double-digit scoring average is Kowacie Reeves, who is shooting nearly 41% from deep.
What to Watch For
Momentum - Penn State has been the definition of a streaky team this year, winning its first five games and then dropping its next five. A win over the Yellow Jackets, which would be the Nittany Lions’ second in a row, would go a long way with Le Moyne and Rider on deck.
Post-finals Hangover - Both teams have not played a basketball game since December 9. It will be interesting to see what the energy looks like in the first few minutes of the game
Blue & White takeover - While this is technically a neutral-site game, Pennsylvania is decidedly closer to New York than Georgia. Will the Nittany Lions faithful show up in droves?
After watching last week’s game, it’s hard to believe this team doesn’t have some fight in it. Give me Penn State 68 - Georgia Tech 64.