Preview: Penn State

Submitted by Ace on February 16th, 2013 at 12:50 PM


WHAT Penn State at Michigan
WHERE Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN Noon Eastern, Sunday
LINE Michigan –25 (Kenpom)

Right: Yeah, it's been that kind of year.


Last year, Penn State was about as close as it's going to get to a one-man team—point guard Tim Frazier had one of the top ten usage rates in the country and dragged the Nittany Lions to a 12-20 record (4-14 B1G). The good news for PSU was that Frazier would return for his senior season. The bad news was that they were still expected to finish at or near the bottom of the conference.

Then, just four games into this season, Frazier was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Penn State still managed to get by with an 8-4 start fueled by a soft nonconference schedule, but since then they've lost all 12 of their Big Ten games, half of them by double digits.

Two of Penn State's guards will almost never leave the court—both D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall play over 85% of available minutes. Newbill has taken over Frazier's role of primary ballhandler and playmaker, averaging over 16 points and four assists per game, but with poor shooting numbers (45% from two, 20% from three) and a decent number of turnovers. Marshall spends more time on the perimeter but isn't exactly a sharpshooter, hitting 43% from two and 31% from three.

Rounding out the starting backcourt is 6'3" guard Nick Coletta, who joined the team as an open tryout walk-on after spending parts of his first semester on campus as a practice player for the women's team. Coletta is extremely low-usage and barely goes inside the arc, attempting just 11 two-pointers all years (he's made three); he's mostly a spot-up shooter, connecting on 32% of his threes.

6'6" forward Ross Travis is the team's best rebounder on both ends. He's also having a brutal season on offense, hitting just under 40% of his twos while going a Ronnie Johnson-esque 5-for-38 from downtown. He's joined in the frontcourt by 6'9" forward Sasa Borovnjak—the only Nittany Lion with an offensive rating above 100 aside from Frazier—who hits 51% of his shots (all twos) and has remarkably low rebounding numbers for a post player.

You get the picture. There's a reason this team hasn't won a conference game and isn't projected by KenPom to have better than a 14% shot at any of the remaining games on their schedule.


Mostly covered above. Penn State's has just two wins over KP100 opponents, one in overtime at a neutral site against #59 Providence when Frazier was still healthy, the other by three points at home against #64 Bucknell. Their next-best win came against #182 Army, and their last win of any kind came in 2012.


Four factors, conference only.

  eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 39.9 (12) 19.2 (10) 29.1 (10) 31.6 (7)
Defense 49.1 (10) 16.9 (9) 30.4 (5) 58.5 (12)

Those numbers paint a clear enough picture of a terrible team—I'm having a difficult time even fathoming how a team can foul that much on defense—but here are some others:

  • Shooting (offense): 40.4 2P%, 25.7 3P%, both dead last in the Big Ten.
  • Shooting (defense): 47.9 2P%, 34.4 3P%
  • Opponents score 29.2% of their points at the free throw line, far beyond the D-I average of 20.3%. When non-conference games are included, they're third in the country in that stat, and that's not one where you want to be at the top.

As a result, Penn State has an offensive efficiency of 86.9 and a defensive efficiency of 106.3 in conference play. They lost at home to Nebraska. I feel mean just talking about Penn State basketball.


Don't embarrass yourselves. Please. 


Michigan by 25

Losing this game would redefine "debacle" and make Michigan fans pine for the days of getting merely humiliated in East Lansing. This seems very unlikely to happen.


Nobody else has posted a preview yet. Given the opponent and the fact that I'm writing this on a Saturday, that makes a certain amount of sense.



February 17th, 2013 at 8:26 AM ^

that there is a "track" to get him back on.  Like the rest of the team, he excelled at playground basketball and building up pretty stats against weak or pretty good teams, but when it came to crunch time, they showed that they are not Top Ten caliber.


February 17th, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

Ok list me your top ten teams above Michigan. Seriously saying "they're not top 10" isn't just an abstract statement, it means you think there are 10 teams in the country with better resumes/talent levels than Michigan. Despite the recent dip (after a brutal stretch I might add), I don't think there are right now.


February 16th, 2013 at 2:42 PM ^

This weekend is Penn State's THON. For those unaware, it is their dance marathon benefiting the 4 dimes foundation. It is on a much larger scale than our DMUM, last year raising over 10 million. It runs until tomorrow night at 6, and I think has a couple 30 minute spots on BTN this weekend. You can check out more at


February 17th, 2013 at 8:23 AM ^

by any kind of a win here.  We've pretty much sunk our season with abyssmal play in the last couple weeks.  Five games against the top competition in the BT, and we looked terrible in every one, and were lucky to come out with even one win.  At this point, we'll be fortunate to even equal our BT win total from last year, when we had a much weaker team, and there's a good chance we'll do worse.


February 17th, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

that' so much better than last year, when we had a lot less talent? We're certainly not going to finish better than 13-5 in conference, and 12-6 is more likely, which probably puts us third or fourth. One win in the BT tourney. No BT title, no number one seed, no POY for Burke, no COY for Beilein, Final Four is just a fantasy, as it always was. With a favorable second round matchup, we might make the round of 16, but that's the ceiling for this team.


February 17th, 2013 at 10:28 AM ^

Either you didn't get a chance to watch any of those games or you just don't understand college basketball.  I know most of the people on this blog are football fans first, and it seems some people have had trouble recognizing that elite teams lose in basketball, particularly on the road.

All four losses came on the road.  I'll agree, the MSU game was embarrassing, but that was really our only bad game--it also game at the end of a brutal stretch and the team was clearly tired.  We had Wisconsin beat and lost because of a fluke shot, and the other two losses were on the road to two top tens teams in what were widely considered to be among the best, most competitive games in college basketball this year. 

Wisconsin won't be making the return trip to Ann Arbor, but of the other three losses, the team already beat OSU at home and MSU and IU are still to come.  Let's withhold judgment until those games--it's entirely possible that they win out in the regular season.

The team has had 4 days off before this game and has another week off after, so they should be able to get fresh for the home stretch


February 17th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

And I stand by my statement that we looked poor in every one. We went in mentally unprepared and got behind early. We got out-hustled, out-shot, out-rebounded and out-defended. As far as winning on the road, Indiana went into OSU and cleaned their clock, so please don't tell me what "elite" teams do on the road.

Bottom line, this team has not improved one bit since fact, they've gotten worse. That's on the coaches, entirely. Be honest..when was the last time this team looked really good against a strong opponent?


February 17th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

Ok clearly Kenpom doesn't take emotion or fatigue into account so the SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES maybe shouldn't be taken so seriously. It's been off by 50 points the last two games.