Preview: Penn State

Submitted by Tim on February 20th, 2010 at 8:55 AM

The EssentialsPSUlogo.gif

WHAT Michigan v. Penn State
WHERE Ann Arbor, MI
Feb 20th, 2010
THE LINE Michigan -8.5*
TELEVISION Big Ten Network (Tom Hamilton & Greg Kelser)

*Line provided by online sports betting site

When Last We Met

Michigan was simply horrible to start the game, missing the first 14 three-pointers they took. The local dining establishment where I was watching the game decided to turn it off for several hours of BCS Championship pregame, and by the time I needled them into turning it back on, Michigan was... playing well? Penn State had a 19 point lead early in the second half, but the Wolverines didn't give up. Laval Lucas-Perry and Zack Novak drilled some clutch 3-balls, and Michigan scored 48 second-half points, tripling(!) their output from the first half.

DeShawn Sims scored 25 points on 17 shots for Michigan (and was subsequently named conference Player of the Week), though Manny Harris had an off game, scoring just 13 points and collecting 3 rebounds in 39 minutes. On the other side, the Wolverines were able to keep Talor Battle in check, holding him to 9 points. Chris Babb was the only Nittany Lion in double figures, putting up 14 points.

Since Last We Met

The loss dropped PSU to 0-3 in the conference, and if you had asked anyone if they thought it would be another 10 conference games before they'd finally win one, they probably would have laughed in your face. However, they managed to lose to both Iowa and Indiana (at home, no less!), and sat at 0-12 in the Big Ten until they effectively ended the tournament dreams of Northwestern in Evanston on Wednesday night.

Michigan, on the other hand, wasn't able to solve Northwestern at home or on the road, and has gone 5-6 since beating Penn State. They've made steady improvements with a couple shocking leaps backwards over the course of the season, and are just another middling Big Ten squad.

Tempo-Free Breakdown

If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.

Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks
Category Michigan Rank Penn State Rank Advantage
Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG% 196 243 M
Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG% 216 148 P
Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO% 17 339 MMMM
Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO% 54 86 M
Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb% 258 2 PPP
Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb% 228 246 M
Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR 337 15 PPPP
Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR 12 276 MMM
Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD 85 129 M
Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO 63 101 M

Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.

The numbers are slightly more favorable to Michigan than they were the first time around, but they're still close enough that the Wolverines don't look like an overwhelming favorite by any stretch. Talor Battle is still the star for PSU, though the Nittany Lions' only win came when he stayed in the background and let his teammates do most of the work.

For the first time in a while (that I can remember), Michigan should have the slight advantage in their ability to shoot the ball. If Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass can continue the hot streak that started against Iowa, it could be a good day for the Wolverines. Michigan should be able to hang onto the ball, and they'll look to take it away from Penn State to turn defense into offense.

Penn State has finally shown they're capable of winning a Big Ten game, and doing so on the road. If Michigan tries to sleepwalk through this game, there's a good chance of allowing the upset. However, if the Wolverines get back to the disciplined defense they've played at times this year, they should be able to hold off Penn State. I still like John Beilein's ability to gameplan against an opponent he's already seen this year, especially on long rest.


Blue boy johnson

February 20th, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

This is one sorry ass game, gonna have to DVR this one. Michigan is going to continue to struggle against everyone until they find somebody not named Sims or Harris, who is actually a threat with the ball in their hands. Maybe Morris can get into the lane and get some and 1's.

Watching those Benzig highlights and seeing him take the ball to the basket and scoring with either hand, was quite impressive, hopefully Smotrycz can bring some of that next season.