national champs baby
Big Ten Tourney Preview: Penn State
|WHAT||Michigan vs Penn State|
|WHERE||United Center, Chicago, Illinois|
|WHEN||~2:30 PM Eastern, Thursday (20 minutes after ILL/MINN)|
|LINE||Michigan –16 (Kenpom)|
I'm fresh off a four-hour drive and Minnesota/Illinois is halfway over, so this will be short and sweet.
Penn State has received the preview treatment twice around these parts: Preview One, Preview Two. In their prior matchups, the Wolverines defeated the Nittany Lions by eight at home, then were upset by six in Happy Valley for their worst loss of the season.
Penn State finished the regular season 10-20 overall and 2-16 in the Big Ten, with their only conference wins coming against Michigan and Northwestern (the latter, surprisingly, on the road).
Four factors, conference only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||42.6 (12)||18.9 (9)||28.9 (10)||34.2 (5)|
|Defense||49.7 (11)||16.9 (10)||28.9 (4)||55.3 (12)|
The numbers are still ugly despite Penn State's late-season surge from GopherQuest Hoops Edition to Respectably Crappy.
Box out. For the love of all things sacred and holy, put a body on someone.
Close out. In Michigan's loss to Penn State, the Wolverines allowed the Nittany Lions to hit 10/20 three-pointers—seemingly all blitheringly wide open looks from Jermaine Marshall—despite them shooting below 30% from downtown this season. Michigan's perimeter defense has lacked lately, but all they need to do it get a hand in the shooter's face and they should be able to keep Penn State from putting up big numbers—when contested, their shots tend not to fall.
Get to the paint. Penn State is an undersized squad that allows opponents to shoot nearly 50% from inside the arc despite fouling at an incredible rate (342nd nationally). Good things happen when teams get to the bucket against them.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 16. I continue to believe that Penn State is the team I've seen against every other member of the Big Ten, and not the upset-waiting-to-happen that they've been in their two games against the Wolverines. On a neutral court, with the chance to secure a first-round NCAA tournament game at Auburn Hills, expect Michigan to take care of business.