Ohio State (14-4, 4-2 in the Big Ten) at Penn State (8-11, 0-7 in the Big Ten)
When: Saturday, January 26th at Noon
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA.
In 2004, Penn State beat the Ohio State Buckeyes. Okay? What’s the big deal? Here’s the big deal: That was the last time Penn State defeated Ohio State. The Nittany Lions will be coming in to the game on Saturday with 17 straight defeats to the hands of the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions are still on the lookout for their first conference win after losing their seventh straight Big Ten game at Indiana on Wednesday. Penn State will host the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center on Coaches vs. Cancer Day at Noon on ESPN 2. Wednesday’s game was full of turnovers, missed shots, and fouls, if Penn State wants to at least give Ohio State a good fight, they will have to limit all of those issues.
Penn State is still the only winless Big Ten team, and many fear that this will continue all the way through the end of the season. D.J. Newbill, Penn State’s “point guard” is coming off a bad game, from the turnover standpoint (8 TO), and will now have to face one of the best on-ball defenders in the Big Ten, Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. Craft is averaging 2.3 steals per game, a number that is likely to go up a bit after Saturday’s game. Expect Thad Matta to use a lot of full-court pressing in this game to try and force turnovers from an inexperienced D.J. Newbill. Ohio State is the second best defense in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin, but Wisconsin is the best defense in the Big Ten every season.
Ohio State is a very good team, maybe not an elite type team like Indiana or Michigan, but still much more talented than Penn State. They play a different style than the Hoosiers as well. Indiana is a well balanced team, while Ohio State relies a lot on Deshaun Thomas for scoring. Thomas averages 20.5 points per game (1st in the Big Ten). When trying to find a flaw in his offensive game, it’s tough to do. He shoots 47% from the field, 41% from three, and 80% from the free throw line. Not only is he the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, he also leads them with 6.7 rebounds per contest. Containing him will be huge for Penn State if they look to get the upset in Happy Valley.
Aaron Craft is recognized as one of the best pure point guards in the country, with 4.7 assists per game and 1.8 turnovers per game. Other than the ability to run the offense and distribute the ball, his offensive game is lacking. Maybe even more impressive than Craft this season for Ohio State has been Shannon Scott. He’s average 4.5 assists per game, and only 1.5 turnovers per game, (3.7 AST/TO ratio). Needless to say, Penn State probably won’t be getting many fast break opportunities, because Ohio State’s guards just don’t turn the ball over.
Ohio State is missing Jared Sullinger in the paint this season, they don’t have a dominant post player to just the ball in to and either score or get fouled in 2013. Deshaun Thomas is doing his best to shoulder the load on offense, and he’s doing it pretty effectively.
It’s hard to preview a game that is expected to be one-sided, I can’t find any promising stats for Penn State in this one, Ohio State is better in every category. So, the I’ll finish this up by going over the Coaches vs. Cancer side of it. Penn State has raised over $2,000,000 in 18 years of helping with C-V-C. $3 from every ticket sold will go towards Coaches vs. Cancer. Also, proceeds from the “Band Together” shirts that are being sold will go towards C-V-C. Penn State guard, D.J. Newbill, lost his mother to cancer in September, so this will be more than just a game for the sophomore guard.
Hopefully Penn State can help beat cancer on Saturday, as well as send Ohio State back to Columbus with a loss.
Prediction: Ohio State 71 – Penn State 53