Penn State Nittany Lions
Current record: 16-13 (9-9)
Current RPI: 56 (IU is #180)
Current Sagarin: 53 (IU is #102)
Current Pomeroy: 50 (IU is #76)
2009-10 record: 11-20 (3-15)
2009-10 RPI: 194
2009-10 Sagarin: 131
2009-10 Pomeroy: 97
Series: IU leads 28-8 (26-8 since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93)
Last Penn State win: 12/27/2010 (69-60 in Bloomington)
Last IU win: 1/21/2010 (67-61 at University Park)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 6:30 p.m. tonight, Big Ten Network
Blogs: Black Shoe Diaries, Linebacker U, Nittany White Out
IU takes the court in the Big Ten Tournament this evening when the Hoosiers play Penn State at 7:30 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. No Big Ten program has profited as much from IU's current downturn as Penn State. From the time Penn State joined the Big Ten until Kelvin Sampson was forced out, IU won 25 of 28 games against the Nittany Lions. From late in the 2008 season to present, IU is 1-4 against PSU. In 2008-09, Penn State became the first school to in the Hoosiers' 111-year basketball history to defeat IU three times in a season. In 2009-10, IU won at Penn State in the only meeting between the schools, and this season IU lost at home to Penn State in the Big Ten opener. This is the third time that IU and Penn State have met in the Big Ten Tournament, and all three meetings have come in the 6/11 game. IU won as the #6 seed in 2003, and Penn State won as the #6 seed in 2009.
The odds are against the Hoosiers tonight, according to Vegas, Pomeroy, and Big Ten Tournament history. In the thirteen previous tournaments, only Illinois in 1999 has won a game as the #11 seed. As IU fans may recall, the Illini followed their win over #6 Minnesota with a beatdown of #3 IU and an upset of #2 Ohio State before losing to #1 Michigan State in the final. If there is any hope, it is that IU should have something of a crowd advantage over Penn State, the most distant Big Ten school and the school with the least interested basketball fan base. Penn State, while certainly better than IU in this category, has not been a terribly good road team this season. Until late February, Penn State's only win away from the Bryce Jordan Center was the aforementioned win at IU. The Lions finished strong on the road, however, winning at Northwestern and Minnesota in their final two road games. A win tonight at least would spare the 2010-11 Hoosiers the current distinction as the only team in IU history without a win away from Bloomington. Meanwhile, Penn State could play its way into the NCAA Tournament with a strong run at Indy, but as in 2009, when Penn State won the NIT, Penn State's non-conference schedule and performance may put the Lions on the wrong side of the line. I think it's fair to say that a loss to IU would burst the bubble.
As you can see, Penn State is a fairly top-heavy team in terms of scoring. Battle, of course, is outstanding and has been since he was a freshman. Jeff Brooks has emerged this year and his three point shooting was the key to Penn State's win in Bloomington. One interesting thing about Battle: the two times he has scored 20 or more points against IU are the two games he has lost to IU. It's amazing how perception differs from reality. Before looking it up, I would have sworn that he had torched us routinely.
Like IU, Penn State is a much better offensive than defensive team. Penn State is #4 in offensive efficiency in Big Ten games, but #9 in defensive efficiency (IU is #9 in offense and #10 in defense. Yes, believe it or not, Northwestern is even worse defensively than IU is). The Nittany Lions especially excel at shooting from inside the arc. The main positive that I can see is that Penn State is not a particularly tall team. They aren't the sort of physical team that gives IU in general, and particularly Christian Watford, problems. This strikes me as a game in which IU can score some points, but can they stop the Nittany Lions?
Well, this is it. A win gives IU another shot at Wisconsin. A loss, and it's on to 2011-12.