Penn State (12-19, 4-14 Big Ten) will face No.5 Indiana (24-7, 11-7) at approximately 2 p.m. today in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions are the No. 12 seed in the tournament, while the Hoosiers are the fifth seed. The two also met in the first round of the conference tournament last year, with Penn State prevailing, 61-55. But that was then, this is now.
Indiana comes in winners of four straight and seven of its past eight games and the Hoosiers are looking to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding this weekend in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Penn State enters today’s contest losers of four straight and is playing with nothing to lose in the conference tournament. Indiana also won both meetings with the Lions this season (88-82 in the Bryce Jordan Center and 73-54 in Assembly Hall).
Keys to the game
- Contain Tim Frazier: This is pretty self-explanatory. Frazier has been Mr. Everything for Penn State this season (18.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.3 apg) and if the Hoosiers can keep the 6-foot-1 stat stuffer in check, they should have no problem winning this game.
- Get Cody Zeller involved early and often: In the teams’ first meeting, Zeller was held to 10 points and Indiana won by just six. In their second meeting, Zeller scored 18 and the Hoosiers won by almost 20. Zeller — who was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year by conference coaches — is one of the Big Ten’s premier big men (15.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Penn State is not exactly deep in its front court, so Zeller should be able to have his way against the Lions.
- Jermaine Marshall: Like pretty much every Penn State player that isn’t Tim Frazier, Marshall had an up and down regular season. His year started off with a suspension, but it ended with him scoring career-best 27 against Michigan on Sunday. The Lions lost by only six to the Wolverines on Marshall’s career day and Frazier had an un-Frazier like day. If Penn State wants to pull off the upset, it’ll need Frazier to play like himself and Marshall to be able to score somewhere in the 15-20 point range.
- Defend the perimeter: Penn State has had trouble defending the 3-pointer all season. It showed on Sunday when Michigan went 10-18 from distance. And it also showed on Jan. 8 when Indiana drained 16 treys against the Lions. IU also has the conference’s two sharpest shooters from long range in Matt Roth and Jordan Hulls, so if PSU can’t defend the arc, it doesn’t stand much of a chance against the Hoosiers.
Indiana 72, Penn State 58