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The Penn State game: playing for pride.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Current record: 13-5 (2-3)
Current RPI: 86
Current Sagarin: 72
Current Pomeroy: 76
2007-08 record: 15-16 (7-11)
2007-08 RPI: 155
2007-08 Sagarin: 115
2007-08 Pomeroy: 108
Series: IU leads 27-4 (25-4 since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93)
Last Penn State win: 3/9/2008 (68-64 in OT, University Park)
Last IU win: 1/20/2008 (81-65 in Bloomington)
Last Penn State win in Bloomington: never
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 6 pm, BTN

As I have said at various points, it was obvious before the season that an invitation to the NCAA Tournament was beyond this team's reach. It became obvious early in the season that a winning season was beyond this team's reach. Now, most IU fans would kill for a handful of Big Ten wins. IU has been competitive in two of its conference games, most painfully the Michigan game and the blown 20 point lead. The other two have been blowouts. Now, IU faces an improved Penn State team. The numbers above make clear that the Nittany Lions have some work to do if they want to contend for a NCAA bid, but it seems that every Big Ten team except for IU can make the case that it is still in the hunt. According to Pomeroy, tomorrow's game presents IU's best chance for a win. Pomeroy gives IU a 22 percent chance to win this game, 5 points better than IU's 17 percent odds at home against Iowa. So, if there are any important games this season, this is one of them.

The Nittany Lions have played well at home this season, upsetting Purdue and nearly upsetting Michigan State. They are 2-2 in true road games, with wins at Penn and Georgia Tech and with losses at Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Penn State play what quickly seems to be becoming a predominant Big Ten style: like Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State, Penn State plays a slow-paced game and has an efficient offense premised on taking care of the ball and shooting well from three point range. Penn State ranks #42 in offensive efficiency (1.10) #7 in offensive turnover percentage (16.8%), #27 in three point shooting percentage (38%), and #56 in percentage of points generated by three pointers. On the defensive side, Penn State is just above the mean, surrendering .99 points per possession. The rebound well defensively, ranking #9 nationally by allowing only 26.9 percent offensive rebounding, but clearly this rebounding focus to some extend explains below average numbers in steals, blocks, and turnovers. IU has so many deficiencies that it's hard to say which is the worst, but at the very least, IU should have better luck taking care of the ball against this Penn State team, but better shoot well. Penn State rebounds well without being a particularly tall team.

As for the individuals, sophomore guard Taylor Battle leads the way with 18.9 points per game and 41 percent three point shooting. Jamelle Cornley averages 14.6 points and shoots over 50 percent from the field, and Stanley Pringle averages 14.2 points per game and 50 percent (!) from behind the arc. Given IU's perimeter defense...well, you figure it out. Cross your fingers and hope they have a first half like Michigan did. That's what it has come to.