Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Northwestern and Penn State Both Seeking First Big Ten Win

Both Northwestern and Penn State are facing tough situations having lost their top players for the season. PSU lost Tim Frazier and NU lost both Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb. With both rosters depleted neither team has seen much success thus far in Big Ten play and neither team is really expected to have much success the rest of the season. That means this game could be the best opportunity for each squad to get a win for sometime.

Northwestern will most likely try to slow the game down once again and hopefully Reggie Hearn will be closer to 100%. I’d also say that I really think if NU runs slow down that Tre Demps needs to be on the court virtually all the time. If you think back to when the slow down game worked well there were a number of times when the shot clock got to about five seconds left that the ball was given to Drew Crawford or Juice Thompson and they created a shot. Northwestern really didn’t have anybody with the ability to create a shot on the floor at Minnesota and as I result they suffered several shot clock violations or very low percentage shots thanks to the expiring shot clock.

Penn State hasn’t been scoring much either this year. In fact, they average less points per game than NU does. They’re led in scoring by sophomore guard D.J. Newbill at about 15 points per game. At 6-4 he’s a good athlete who is a decent rebounder which could led to some second chance points vs NU. Penn State’s other guard is Jermaine Marshall who also averages over 14 points per game. He’s also the team’s leading three point shooter, but keep in mind that’s with only 24 made on the season which shows clear evidence that Penn State is not a good shooting team from downtown. It might be worth NU trying some 1-3-1 as long as they can grab some rebounds which is always something of a question mark. Look for 6-6 sophomore Ross Travis to be a factor on the glass. He’s a little undersized for a Big Ten forward, but he plays with a good motor and as a result pulls down more than seven rebounds per game.

Prediction: This is a game which could certainly go either way. Northwestern should have a size advantage, but Penn State is more athletic. Northwestern should be able to shoot better, but they’ve also been known to allow their opponents to shoot well above their season average. I’m also not certain how significant home court advantage will be for Penn State, but they do have a 15-3 all time record vs NU at home and I don’t think they’ve had a large crowd in any of those 18 games. Penn State, 58 Northwestern, 56

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