Penn State heads to Columbus on Saturday with a chance to earn its fourth straight victory over Ohio State and complete a season sweep of the series. To be honest, I can’t think of anytime that Penn State has ever traveled to the heart of Buckeye country for a bigger game with a noon start.
The Lions are 9-9 overall and have a chance to even their conference record at 4-4. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are reeling a bit, having lost three straight games - including one at home to the Wisconsin team that Penn State just upset.
Feel free to use this as Saturday’s game thread with all the typical things holding true - be respectful in all ways. But also, look below to read more about Ohio State.
Scouting the Opposition
As previously mentioned, Ohio State is struggling. After a 12-2 start and a 2024-opening win against Rutgers, the Buckeyes have lost three straight. One of those was a narrow loss at Indiana, while another was a home loss to conference-leading Wisconsin. But, back on Monday, Ohio State lost at reeling Michigan. So, it’s pretty safe to say that Ohio State will view Saturday as a “must win” in order to get back in the mix for a conference tourney bye in the very muddled Big Ten standings.
The Buckeyes are led by sophomore guard Bruce Thornton, who is one of the conference’s best. He leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per games, while he also has an impressive 72 assists vs. just 16 turnovers. Minnesota transfer Jamison Battle adds 14.6 points per games, while Roddy Gayle Jr. chips in 14.1 points.
What to Watch For
- Defending the 3-pointer
Ohio State is a very good 3-point shooting team, shooting 35 percent from deep with an effective field goal percentage of 52.5. Back when the teams met in December, Ohio State made 11 of them with the aforementioned Battle, Thornton, and Gayle combining for nine makes. Now, the Buckeyes went cold down the stretch, something that is less likely to happen at home.
- Life on the Road
Speaking of - Penn State is still after its first true road win of the season. The Lions have only won once away from the BJC and that was the game earlier this month at the Palestra against Michigan. To be blunt, the Lions haven’t even been competitive in their last two road outings - blowout losses to Michigan State and Purdue. Penn State is coming off its best win of the year, so hopefully some of that energy carries over to Saturday.
- A Game of Adjustments
Saturday marks the first time that Penn State will have a second meeting against a conference foe. It’s always interesting to see how coaches handle things a second time around. Remember that Penn State was struggling mightily back in that December win before turning things around with its pressure in the second half. How will the Buckeyes handle that from the start on Saturday?
Compared to other teams in the conference, I like the way that Penn State matches up against Ohio State. However, I’m also a big believer in home court advantage and the desperation of conference play. Ohio State is the better team - review those NET and KenPom ratings before even looking at the records. I do think Penn State is competitive in this one, but the Buckeyes have too much firepower at home.
Ohio State 78, Penn State 69