Penn State rebounded from the screw job against Georgia Tech by beating Le Moyne. Now, they have their final non-conference game of the regular season, and an opportunity to collect a winning record before the grind of the Big Ten takes hold. Luckily, this Rider team is a far cry from the one who, on that same “holiday break” window, came into the Bryce Jordan Center and left with a win. Unluckily, the Lions have already lost to a team they have no business losing to, so they can’t take this game lightly.
Scouting the Opposition
Rider is not a sub-300 team like Bucknell was, but they’re hanging in that vicinity at 274th in the country on Kenpom. They’re 276th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 254th in defensive efficiency, and are allowing opponents to shoot 33.3 percent from three. With the Nittany Lions somewhat finding their shot from outside, this does not spell an ideal matchup for the Broncs (this your periodic reminder that they’re the Broncs, not the Broncos).
Rider does have some shooters on their side, however. DJ Dudley, albeit on 11 shots, has made 36.4 percent of his three-pointers. Corey McKeithan has a healthier 36.8 percent rate on 38 shots this season, and Mervin James lags a bit behind with 33.3 percent on 18 shots. No one else on the team eclipses 30 percent from three. One thing they do very well, however, is rebounding the ball. They’re 27th in offensive rebound rate and 105th on defensive rebounding rate. Contrast that with Penn State’s 203rd and 336th respective rebounding ranks, and, if the game goes sideways, we could see where it would happen.
What to Watch For
The big glaring thing - It’s the rebounds. Can Penn State keep Rider off the glass? Can they do something themselves? A lot of Lions touch the ball when a rebound goes up, but no many of them tend to actually hold on to the ball...
Energy - Last non-conference game of the season, during the dead zone of the year. Bryce Jordan will be empty, so this is an opportunity to bring their own energy into the building.
Jameel - He was seen without the boot recently. Will he see the court in this game? The Lions can certainly use his outside shooting in Big Ten play.
A Penn State Basketball fan can’t in good conscience take any game for granted. Not to mention, there are bad memories associated with this Rider team. Cautiously, the optimistic side prevails. Penn State 72, Rider 69