Game Preview: Ohio State @ Penn State


NCAA Basketball Stats

March Madness begins tomorrow night at College Station as the newly ranked #1 Ohio State Buckeyes face one more stiff test on the road against the nipping and clawing Penn State Nittany Lions. A lot is on the line as the bubble begins to wear thin. Pennsylvania’s team is one big win away from a tourney run. While the talk focuses on our hated rival in Ann Arbor, the fact is that if Penn State can win out against Ohio State and Minnesota, things will be looking pretty good despite two season losses to the Michigan Wolverines.

With a 20 point win over the Spartans on Sunday, Purdue’s constant push to try and steal the conference championship looms over the heads of the Buckeyes. Now is the time to peak. Just one game ahead of the Boilermakers with Wisconsin still on the schedule, it’s this game that starts the descend of other teams.

Two very motivated clubs will meet on the court on Tuesday, with two opposite outcomes in the Big Ten conference possible.

Starting Lineups:

Reviewing the Nittany Lions:

After dropping a tough loss to the Wisconsin last week, The Nittany Lions rebounded with a solid 66-52 win over the Northwestern Wildcats. Talor Bell became the first Big Ten player ever to record 2,000 points, 500 steals and 500 rebounds in a career. These Nittany Lions have had an interesting season, winning three of the last four after dropping three in a row in conference play against Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan. Like their record, at times they have been a mediocre group. Either way, this is a club that for the most part has kept themselves in the game.

Just ask the Buckeyes.

In their first match-up this season, The Nittany Lions took Ohio State down to the wire, and had kept the game close  despite Talor Battle, The Big Ten’s leading scorer struggling from the field. With just three minutes remaining, Battle drove to the hoop and added two to take the lead. It was Battle again who answered the call with just more than a minute left on the clock. Down two, Battle drove to the hoop and caused a hustling and overaggressive Aaron Craft to foul. Battle sunk those free throws to tie the game. The game seemed like it was meant to end a tie ball game

With just thirteen ticks left on the clock, freshman Jared Sullinger hoisted the game winning three to keep the Buckeyes undefeated and push them to the number one ranking in the nation. The Buckeyes escaped with the home win, but on Tuesday, they will be taking on an even grittier team on their home court.

Throw the records away. No matter what happens by the end of the buzzer, between then we know this final road game of the season will be a a true battle for both offenses and defenses. On Senior night, it will all come down to the match-ups on the court.

Match Ups:

Talor Battle will be a hand full for the Buckeye guards as the senior has one last game to keep his career alive. No matter what the stats say, Battle brings something to the court that has been a detriment to a pretty solid defense this season. No matter where he is on the court, he can make plays.

But don’t count out William Buford, David Lighty and Aaron Craft on guarding the probably first team All Big team member. Craft was able to keep the Nittany Lions biggest weapon to just 5-17 from the field and only 1-10 from beyond the arc in their last contest against each other.

Meanwhile the freshman guard put up a career high 19 points.

Even though Craft might have outnumbered Battle on the defensive end, he is the first to admit that sometimes your best defense against a man is watching his jumper not working for him. Battle had some good looks in game number one, and if given to him again, the results on the scoreboard might read a bit differently.

I mean, I might have been the reason, I might not have, but we did a great job as a team defending him. I don’t know if it was as much me as his shots not falling. That would frustrate most people. He had some pretty good looks too.”

-Freshman Guard Aaron Craft

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For the Buckeyes, the key offensively will be getting Jared Sullinger going after a 12 minute, 5 point performance on Sunday against the Hoosiers. Hi nineteen points matched Craft as the games highest scorer in game number one, but It’s more about that from the inside. To get the perimeter going, it’s going to take some good post play and drawing of coverage to get the ball kicked out to the perimeter. Deshaun Thomas will not have as fair of a match up as he did on Sunday, but if he gets major time watch for him to light up the scoreboard again.


The Buckeyes will have their hands full on the road, but with motivation on their side to complete their season goals, It seems like the Buckeyes will chalk up another solid road win on the resume and road to the Final Four. If Penn State’s Talor Battle takes over the game a la Jordan Taylor and E’Twaun Moore, than the right run could be the dagger that continues the Buckeyes struggles recently on the road. Excpect a high octane contest that is very physical inside and out on the perimeter. This match-up is Big Ten basketball at it’s finest and has all the implications to be the game of the season heading into final play of the season.
Final Score: OSU 72 PSU 68