national champs baby
Death From Above: Penn State, Part 2
|WHAT||Michigan at Penn State|
Happy Valley, PA
|WHEN||6:30 PM tonight|
|LINE||Michigan –15 (Kenpom)|
Pat Chambers's prayers have not, to date, been answered. Picture via Onward State.
Penn State remains Penn State, the worst team in the league by some distance thanks to Tim Frazier's exploded achilles and the fact that Trey Burke is not in Happy Valley—considering alternate universes where that is a reality and Frazier is not hurt is a mindblowing pastime.
Ace's preview covers the Nittany Lions in detail and reality has changed very little in the intervening week and a half. DJ Newbill is a huge-usage player who puts up a lot of bad shots because he has to; Jermaine Marshall is the Robin to his Batman and also takes a lot of bad shots because he has to; anyone else putting the ball up is a good idea unless it's on a putback or it's Nick Colella getting a good look at a three.
In the first game, Penn State put Michigan's defense to as much of a sword as they're capable, putting up 1.1 PPP thanks to decent shooting inside and outside the arc and a 15/17 performance from the line. Michigan struggled to contain center Sasa Borovnjak on the pick and roll; he ended up acquiring 17 points without having to create in the post much himself. Jordan Morgan's presence will help cut those opportunities down—if he's healthy.
Other than that, there's a reason Penn State finds itself where they are.
Penn State is still without a conference win but it's worth noting that they do seem to have turned a corner. They have left Depressing Blowout Street for Wrenching Close-ish Loss Avenue, sure, but it is something that their last three games have been defeats by two, eight, and five points with the latter two on the road against tourney-bound Michigan and Illinois.
The Illinois game was a slow-paced grinding in which Borovnjak again picked up 17 points on efficient shooting—checking him will be important.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||41.3 (12)||19.7 (11)||29.7 (9)||31.6 (7)|
|Defense||49.3 (9)||16.4 (10)||29.2 (5)||61.0 (12)|
Though still horrible, Penn State has picked up almost a point and a half in eFG% since the last preview post in this space—they are getting better. Sort of. Thanks to their epic hackathon at Crisler they've actually gone 2.5 points in the wrong direction when it comes to giving up free throws.
Ace covered most of the fun stuff in the first post, but to recap, this is a team that shoots 28% from three and 41% from two and is 345th nationally at avoiding opponent free throws. Yeesh.
Stop the pick and roll. Major issues with this fueled Penn State's competitive first half in Ann Arbor, and those issues continued into the Illinois game until Morgan came off the bench and ran around and did Jordan Morgan stuff. Having Morgan healthy will help; it would also be super nice to see Horford and McGary improving in this department.
Keep 'em outside. Jump shooting is just the worst for Penn State. I guess an uncontested three is kind of bad but given the way these guys put it up, a jump shot is about as likely to lead to a transition opportunity for Michigan as it is points for Penn State.
Hit your free throws. Oh, there will be free throws. So many free throws.
Don't, like, lose to Penn State. Yeah man.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 15!