Replacing almost all of your production from a season ago was surely going to lead to growing pains. The Nittany Lions welcomed 10 new players to the team, the only holdout who saw meaningful minutes being Kanye Clary. As a result, Penn State looks like a team with pretty good, if not great, individual pieces, but a mediocre, if not bad, team.
Against Maryland on Wednesday, we saw what things could look like once the individual players are comfortable playing as a team. Penn State nearly stole one away from the Terps in regulation, but they couldn’t find the bucket in overtime. Now, they return home in hopes that Wednesday is a sign of things to come as opposed to a blip on the radar.
Scouting the Opposition
Ohio State, like Maryland, is another team that brings back a ton of production from last year. Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Zed Key, and Felix Okpara, return. The Buckeyes landed Jamison Battle from Minnesota, who has fit into the rotation quite nicely. They also brought Dale Bonner from Baylor, and, of course, our very own Evan Mahaffey dons the scarlet and grey nowadays. The Buckeyes also have two freshmen getting some playing time, as Devin Royal and Scotty Middleton are seeing the floor plenty.
So far, the Buckeyes are having the kind of season they did a year ago, with a strong start in non-conference play, and an early win against Minnesota in Big Ten play. It’s unrealistic to expect the kind of collapse they had last year, so Penn State will likely need to mature quite quickly if they want to be able to compete in this game.
What to Watch For
Pace - Maryland is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country. Ohio State is one of the best. Can the Nittany Lions keep pace with the Buckeyes outside the arc? If not, can they prevent Ohio State from torching the nets?
Rebounding - A much shorter team in last season’s Nittany Lions had a much better time at the glass to date. If Penn State doesn’t get its rebounding situation in order, it’s going to be a long season.
Home crowd - Another Saturday game is another opportunity to have a good showing. Will anyone be there?
Unfortunately, this Ohio State team is not the same as the one from last season, and neither is this Penn State team. Ohio State 88, Penn State 67