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BTT Championship Preview: PSU Vs. OSU


It might not have been the prettiest road to the Big Ten Championship, but when the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions meet for the third time on Sunday two different roads to one destination will meet. For the Nittany Lions, every single game of the Big Ten Tournament has been a moment to keep their hopes alive. For the Buckeyes, it’s been about completing a goal that was set at the beginning of the season. When the ball is tipped at 3:30 PM EST, both will be fighting to capture their moment. The Nittany Lions’ hopes possibly dangle on a Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Buckeyes’ goal is to head into the NCAA tournament as the true Big Ten Champion for the second straight season.

One team that’s not supposed to be here against another that is defending against an upsetting moment of an unbelievable season. It looks like we have an ending to the Big Ten season that defines this season – unpredictable.

Starting Lineups:

Previewing The Nittany Lions:

It’s been an interesting run in the Big Ten Tournament for Penn State, that started with a hard fought 66-63 win against the Indiana Hoosiers on Thursday. On par with the season, Jeff Brooks and Talor Battle have been the center of the Nittany Lions success. Just like the season, the Nittany Lions have found themselves in some odd territory. On Friday, they beat Wisconsin for the second time this season. Though it’s safe to say that the win in the quarterfinals wasn’t unexpected, the final score of 36-33 was the ugliest win in Big Ten Tournament history.

But when they had a chance to prove doubters wrong against a team that has been to the Final Four the past two seasons, the Nittany Lions responded.

Talor Battle took over in the second half, scoring 17 of his 25 points to lead his team to the first Big Ten Finals appearance in Penn State history. Defensively, the team held the Spartans to just 21% shooting in the second half. Tim Frazier pulled down 8 rebounds and added 22 points. Despite the big win, it’s obvious that Penn State will struggle without their one go-to guy. If Talor Battle does not play to his top potential in the most important game of his life, the chances of Penn State winning are slim to none.


The key position to watch in this game will be the guard play. As evidenced throughout the season, the Buckeyes have struggled when star point guards have taken over the ball game. Despite keeping the lid on Talor Battle in the first two games of the season, he has shown throughout this season series his offensive capability. In game one, Buckeye Freshman Aaron Craft was solid defensively, holding the Battle to just 1 for 10 three point shooting. On senior night at the Bryce Jordan Center, Battle was able to exploit the defense for 18 points on 50% shooting from the field. As witnessed on Saturday against the Michigan State Spartans, the senior can take over a game at any point in time.

On the flip side, Ohio State’s guard play against the Nittany Lions this season has been something to watch. In game two of the season, it was the Jon Diebler show. The Sandusky product broke the Big Ten record for three pointers in a game by dropping 10 treys and scoring a career high 30 points. If Diebler drops anything near his nine straight threes on championship Sunday, then Penn State is in trouble. Unlike Penn State, the Buckeyes have a couple of weapons in the back court. Along side Diebler’s 30 in game two, William Buford was able to tally 21 points. Though most would say the most valuable Ohio State freshman is Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft has put up a good argument in this series. In two games against Penn State he has tallied 13 assists while scoring a career high 19 points in game one and holding Penn State guards in check.

Though the guards will be the players to watch, two forwards will be battling in the paint all afternoon long. Jared Sullinger has not played like a freshman all year long, averaging 14.5 points and 8 rebounds per game against Penn State this season. It was his three pointer with 13.2 seconds left that lifted the Buckeyes over the Nittany Lions in game one.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Big Ten Championship came down to a last second Sullinger shot.

While Sullinger will be the focus inside, Jeff Brooks will be the secondary scorer that Penn State will look to revolve their offense around. He hasn’t had the best two games against Ohio State, but his play should be critical on Sunday. The senior averaged 8.5 points per game against the Buckeyes this season.


Whoever wins this game will most likely have won the turnover and rebound battle. Throughout the season series, the Buckeyes out rebounded the Nittany Lions 60-39. Beyond owning Penn State on the glass, Ohio State won the turnover battle by a total of eight. If the Buckeyes can control tempo and score off the turnover with excellent defensive play from guards David Lighty and Aaron Craft, then Penn State will have to rely on the three point shot. With consistent perimeter defense all season, it seems like that game plan wouldn’t bode well for an often erratic shooter such as Talor Battle.

With a heavy dose of Jared Sullinger inside and delivering the ball to the perimeter, it should be another day of celebration for the number one team in all the land.

Final Score: OSU 74 PSU 66