Penn State Nittany Lions
Current record: 8-9 (0-5)
Current RPI: 214
Current Sagarin: 146
Current Pomeroy: 99
2008-09 record: 27-11 (10-8), won NIT
2008-09 RPI: 70
2008-09 Sagarin: 33
2008-09 Pomeroy: 58
Series: IU leads 27-7 (25-7 since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93)
Last Penn State win: March 12, 2009 (66-51 in Big Ten Tournament, Indianapolis)
Last IU win: 1/20/2008 (81-65 in Bloomington)
Last IU win at Penn State: 1/13/2007 (84-74)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 7 pm Thursday, Big Ten Network
No team has profited more from the disarray in Indiana's basketball program than Penn State. IU won 27 of the first 30 meetings between the programs, but the Nittany Lions now are on a four game losing streak: an overtime loss on the road late in the 2008 season and after Kelvin Sampson had been forced out, and three wins last year, including one in the Big Ten Tournament. This makes Penn State the answer to a trivia question, because IU never had lost to a team three times in one season until last season. IU has not won a road game since before that 2008 loss to Penn State, but this game may be IU's best chance of the season to win on an opponent's court. After winning the NIT last season, Penn State has backslid and remains the only Big Ten team that is winless in the confeference. Oddly, Penn State has played better on the road than at home in conference. The Lions lost by only one point at Illinois, by 3 at Iowa, and by 5 at Minnesota. At home, however, Penn State has been blown out by Wisconsin and blew a big lead against Michigan, eventually losing by 9.
While last year's leading scorer, Talor Battle, returns, the loss of Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle seems to have hurt Penn State, which was on the NCAA bubble last year. In 2008-09, Battle, Pringle, and Cornley were Penn State's only double-digit scorers, with no other scoring more than 6.2 points per game. This season, it's even more lopsided:
|Andrew Jones III||17||23.9||2.4||4.6||51.9||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.1||1.8||61.3||1.6||3.4||5.0||0.4||1.2||0.2||0.4||2.3||5.9|
Obviously, Talor Battle bears a big percentage of the scoring burden for the Lions, and it is to his credit that his shooting percentages remain fairly flat from last year, although his assists are down, unsurprisingly. A whole bunch of players score between 6 and 8 points per game. A look at Penn State's tempo-free numbers reveals the typical slow-paced Penn State team (#311 in possessions per game). Much like Michigan, Penn State is a perimeter-oriented team that takes good care of the ball and relies heavily on the three point shot. Despite their perimeter orientation on offense, Penn State is surprisingly good on the defensive boards, ranking #4 in Division I in defensive rebounding percentage. A positive for IU is that Penn State does not force many turnovers or block many shots. IU ranks among the nation's worst in those offensive categories, but Penn State does not seem to be the sort of team that will exploit those weaknesses.
Pomeroy predicts a 6 point Penn State win and gives IU only a 26 percent chance of winning. Nevertheless, if IU is going to win a road game this season, tonight's game appears to be the most likely candidate. On the other hand, Penn State does not play Iowa again, so my guess is that Penn State views this game as its best chance for a win, period. IU continues to endure long scoring droughts, while other problems, such as turnovers, seemed improved against Minnesota. Neither of these teams seems to be going anywhere, but the winner can at least take some solace in the progress.