Penn State plays at Minnesota tonight at 9:00 p.m. on Big Ten Network. I’m going to watch, but I’m not too excited about it. That’s what happens when your team plays well enough in November and December to earn its first top 25 ranking since 1996 and then loses two straight games to mid-tier Big Ten teams.
Yes, the entire conference is a middle tier right now, but the Rutgers and Wisconsin games were still YUGE opportunities for the Nittany Lions to rack up quality wins. Since they lost both games, their KenPom ranking has fallen to 37th and they are projected to finish 19-12 (9-11 Big Ten), which is right in bubble hell.
Winning tonight would be a great way for Penn State to get back on track for the Tournament, but Minnesota has been lethal at home. The surprisingly competitive Golden Gophers have already taken down Ohio State, Northwestern, and Michigan in The Barn this season.
Just like that Penn State team that won the NIT two seasons ago, Minnesota is led by a trio of sophomores. Daniel Oturu has taken a big step forward after an encouraging freshman season, but the real surprise is Marcus Carr, who has become one of the Big Ten’s best point guards after transferring from Pitt. Considering that Micah Potter just tore up the Penn State defense, I’m thinking the Lions will have their hands full with Oturu. Perhaps Pat Chambers should mix in some zone, as three-point shooting isn’t a strength for the Gophers.
Considering how Penn State has played in its last two road games (at Ohio State and at Rutgers) it’s a little surprising that they are only getting 2.5 point from bookmakers.