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Indiana Hoosiers v. Penn State Nittany Lions (preview).

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Penn State Nittany Lions
Current record: 10-10 (2-5)
Current RPI: 142 (IU is #24)
Current Sagarin: 130 (IU is #13)
Current Pomeroy: 135 (IU is #12)
2010-11 record: 19-14 (9-9), lost to Temple in first round of NCAA Tournament
2010-11 RPI: 39
2010-11 Sagarin: 49
2010-11 Pomeroy: 37

Series: IU leads 29-9 (27-9 since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93)
Last Penn State win: March 10, 2011 (61-55 in Big Ten Tournament, Indianapolis)
Last IU win: 1/8/2012 (88-82 in University Park)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: noon Sunday, Big Ten Network
Blogs: Black Shoe Diaries, Linebacker U, Nittany White Out

As I said before the Nebraska game, it was very important to IU's fortunes that the Hoosiers go 2-0 this week. Unfortunately, while IU spent the first 35 minutes of the Nebraska game apparently on track to do exactly that, a total collapse in all facets of the game during the final few minutes of that game put the Hoosiers in a very bad place. If the computer rankings are worth anything, Penn State and Nebraska are the two worst teams in the Big Ten, by far. IU has no margin for error, and a loss or even a close win would be cause for extreme concern, as if we aren't there already.

The Big Ten season is approaching the halfway point. Of IU's seven Big Ten games to date, IU has looked consistently good in only one: the home win over Ohio State. Against Michigan State, IU sandwiched its best 10 minutes of the season between the 30 worst minutes of the season. In three games (@ Penn State, Michigan, @ Nebraska) IU appeared to have the game in hand but allowed the opponent to come close to winning or, in the case of Nebraska, allowed the opponent to win. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that the only thing IU is doing well in Big Ten play is shooting three pointers. Nearly all of IU's decent offensive numbers arise from IU's 43 percent shooting from deep. IU is dead last in conference play in defensive efficiency, offensive and defensive steal percentages, is #11 in offensive turnover percentage and #10 defensively (and comfortably in the red). We are #7 in three point defense and #10 in two point defense. The sudden decline of the defense is fairly difficult for me to understand. I realize that IU doesn't have super-athletic guards, but to be so bad, after a pretty respectable non-conference performance, even against good teams, is tough to understand. I don't understand how IU can get onlu 18 percent of its offensive rebound opportunities against an overmatched Nebraska team. Of course, IU is capable of playing better, but I've still seen no reason to believe that the Hoosiers are going to begin playing better.

A good start, of course, would be a lockdown performance in a home blowout of Penn State. The game at Penn State was a shamefully sloppy performance (16 turnovers, 1.15 points per possession allowed) that was saved only by 16-24 shooting from three point range. The Nittany Lions have gone 1-2 since the last IU game, losing at Nebraska and at home to Minnesota before rallying for a home win against Illinois last night. The Illinois game did not end until after 11 p.m., so if nothing else, this may present a slight scheduling advantage for IU. Penn State will have barely 60 hours between games. In the first game, Penn State leaned heavily on Tim Frazier and Jermaine Marshall, and I expect that will be the case again. I have no predictions and no feel for this game. Even a blowout win isn't cause for much optimism, but anything less will mean that the concern continues at least through the Wisconsin game next Tuesday, if not beyond.