Sunday, February 1, 2009

Penn State Preview

Penn State (16-5 overall, 5-3 in conference)

Key Wins:
vs. Purdue 67-64
vs. Michigan 73-58

Key Losses:
at Wisconsin 65-61
at Minnesota 79-59

Why Penn State Could Win:
1) Talor Battle - This young point guard leads the Big Ten in minutes played and in his two years of experience, he has had two big games against Michigan State. In the last meeting, he led the Nittany Lions' ferucious comeback with a bunch of points late in the game. Battle's other great game came last year at Penn State when they upset the highly ranked Spartans. Talor Battle is a lot like Kalin Lucas. He seems to be a scoring point guard who can hit shots from almost anywhere on the court. It will be a great matchup today at that position.
2) Jamelle Cornley - Cornley is the Big Ten's leading active scorer with 1369 points. This season he is averaging 16.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the Big Ten. In the last contest against Michigan State, he had a career high 26 points. Look for Penn State to try and get him going early as he may be a matchup problem for us with Raymar Morgan and his virus thing. Izzo may be forced to have Allen or Summers guard him as he may be too quick for our bigs.
3) Three Point Shooting - The Nittany Lions are a good outside shooting team. They currently are third in the Big Ten in 3-pt percentage at near 37%. Stanley Pringle and Talor Battle lead the team on the season with 50% and 41% respectively.
4) Stanley Pringle - The outside shooter is Penn State's x-factor for this game. If he can provide a third scoring option for the Nittany Lions, Michigan State will have a hard time winning this game.
5) Rebounding - While they aren't near Michigan State's dominance, Penn State is a decent rebounding team. They rank fourth in the conference so far this year in rebounding margin. The Spartans, however, won the battle on the boards 39-23 with 15 offensive rebounds.
6) Raymar Morgan - His status is uncertain. Tom Izzo has him listed pre-game as a starter, but I'm not so sure it will happen. Then, even if he does play, which Morgan are we going to get? We need the one that played at Penn State the first time and finished with 17 points on 7-9 shooting. Even more importantly, we need him for his size so he can matchup against the Nittany Lions' big men. If he doesn't play, it will be interesting to see who Izzo chooses to go with for the majority of the game.

Why Michigan State Can Win:
1) The Game is in the Breslin Center - Penn State has looked horrible on the road this year. They were blown out at Minnesota and even struggled at Indiana. Couple these facts with how good the Spartans are at home and you have to think the odds are against the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately, Northwestern probably has every visiting team that walks into the Breslin thinking that they can beat the Spartans at home.
2) Rebounding - According to ESPN, Michigan State leads the entire country in team rebounding margin at +10.6. They have only lost the rebounding battle once this year and that was to UNC without Goran Suton. Although the Nittany Lions are a solid rebounding team, I don't expect them to be the second team to pull down more boards than the Spartans. As Izzo has said in the past, sometimes our best offensive play is an offensive rebound.
3) Durrell Summers - He is in the zone right now. In his last two games he is averaging 23.5 points and shooting 66% from behind the arc. If he has another big performance today, I am sure he will be Big Ten Player of the Week. I just hope he doesn't force any three point shots. I expect Penn State to focus on him today which should give him plenty of opportunities to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. While he obviously is shooting a high percentage from behind the three point line, I still think he will be more dangerous attacking the basket.
4) Kalin Lucas - Lucas actually now leads the Big Ten in conference scoring at 18.8 ppg. He had a poor game the first time around so I expect him to be trying to outperform Talor Battle today. Hopefully he plays within himself and utilizes his quickness to open up the offense.

In their first contest, Penn State gave Michigan State all they could handle. MSU was plagued by a long offensive drought and a poor game from Kalin Lucas. I don't expect a repeat performance from the Spartans today in the Breslin Center. While Battle and Cornley will undoubtedly get their points, I don't think that Stanley Pringle will be able to provide a third scoring option for Penn State.

Michigan State over Penn State 69-61.

"Losing to Northwestern, a lot of teams think they can come in here and do the same thing. So we have to come out with the same type of energy we have been coming out with on the road and hopefully sustain that." --Tom Izzo

"Their prowess has even reached historic level, with the first 5-0 Big Ten road record in MSU history. The problem for the Spartans is the next three games are at Breslin Center."
--Andrew Mouranie of the Lansing State Journal

Okay, this last one is a little bit ridiculous. At least wait until they lose in the Breslin Center again before you start implying that they can't win at home.

Other Michigan State News
1) Delvon Roe Feels Game is Starting to Come Back - A link to the Detroit Free Press story is here. I don't know about eveyrone else, but even at 100%, I don't know if I would have expected anything more out of this kid this year. He is playing good defense and is a great rebounder. Sure, his offense is lagging behind, but it will get better. I think we should just be happy with the Delvon that we have now and not worry about the Delvon that we thought we landed as a high school recruit.
2) Matt Trannon Playing Basketball in Australia - Joe Rexrode tells us how he said all along that Trannon's best option was to play basketball professionally instead of football. I don't know if I remember that, but I do know that he should have never quit playing for us. The link is here.

That's Ridiculous
1) Manny Harris Ejected Against Purdue - Manny Harris's ejection yesterday in Michigan's loss at Purdue was completely ridiculous. I can see calling the guy for a foul, or even a technical, but to be thrown out for a very common play is crazy. Watch today in the State game and see how many players swing their elbows around when they catch a ball. The difference on this play was that Kris Kramer's high pressure defense made him more vulnerable to getting elbowed. If you are going to guard a guy that tight, you are going to get hit sometimes. That is just the way it is. I didn't see any intent by Harris to hurt Kramer. I think he was just making a fundamental move to get his defender off of him. Unfortunately for Michigan State fans, this bad call turned the tide for the Boilermakers and they ended the game on a 40-20 run.

Tomorrow: Penn State Post Game.

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