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Penn State vs Northwestern Preview: Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals

Penn State looks to improve NCAA Tournament seeding with a win against the Wildcats

Mar 1, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett (22) celebrates guard Camren Wynter (11) game winning shot against the Northwestern Wildcats during overtime at Welsh-Ryan Arena. David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State did the Hard™ thing and beat Illinois three times in a row. Now, they take on the Northwestern Wildcats a second time in as many weeks, looking to do a complete sweep of the state of Illinois in the process. The Nittany Lions likely secured their bid into the NCAA Tournament with the win against the Illini, but any victory from here on out is a chance at better seeding. Win again, and they may not have to play in Dayton when the dust settles.

Northwestern showed just how stout they can be defensively in the last matchup. Were it not for their own inefficiency in scoring, they likely would have run away with the contest after they jumped to that quick 10-point lead. The Lions will need to stay disciplined, and employ the same kind of relentless defense they put on display in the first game.

Scouting the Opposition

Chase Audige and Boo Booie earned themselves co-Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten honors, respectively, and they did it for a reason. When both are on, they’re impossible to stop. As of late, it has been Booie on the offensive end and Audige on the defensive end, but they’ve gotten help. Brooks Barnhizer torched the Nittany Lions in the first meeting, and Ty Berry chipped in as well with 10 points. The Lions will need to stay on top of the role players as much as the starring cast, as you don’t want a repeat of not only the last game, but every other game where the Lions get burned by a complementary piece.

What to Watch For

Keep the ride going - For nearly a month now, the 1-0 mentality has been the staple of this run. Can the Lions keep this mentality, knowing that they’re likely already in the tournament?

Put the shovels away - As exciting as it may be for the impartial fan, it is nerve-racking for those of us with vested interest to see the Lions dig themselves a hole that they then have to dig themselves out of. Maybe this one can be a drama-free contest?


This team could have given up plenty of times this season, when things were tough. They could have let the foot off the gas when things went well. They did neither. Penn State 66, Northwestern 64