Photo: flickr Writer: Eric Daniel
The Northwestern Wildcats put together a solid nonconference resume standing 11-2 overall with their only defeats coming in competitive matchups against Butler on the road and on a neutral site against Notre Dame. Northwestern has the tools to reach the NCAA tournament this season, but to do that this group likely needs to go at least .500 throughout Big Ten play with some strong resume wins along the way. Northwestern looked less dominant in their last outing prior to the holidays beating Houston Baptist at home by a final of 72-63, but this group has been building momentum winning their last 8 in a row including resume building results coming in wins against Wake Forest and Dayton. This group likes to play in the half court ranking 36th in the nation in total defense and 122nd in scoring average.
We liked the potential of this Nittany Lions’ roster coming into the year and Penn State should be a tougher out in the Big Ten than what they were a season ago. There’s no denying Penn State was inconsistent throughout the nonconference, but that’s to be expected with a developing group of talent. Penn State closed out the nonconference hot winning in back to back blowouts against Saint John’s and Morgan State. Penn State has shown flashes of solid play on both ends of the court and this squad currently ranks around 150th in the nation in both total defense and scoring average. Penn State has tremendous offensive depth with 5 players averaging in double figures scoring with veteran guard Shep Garner leading the team averaging 14.6 points per contest.
This is one of the trend setting games for both squads as each team tries to get off to the right kind of start in the Big Ten. Penn State will get somewhat of a boost from their home court, but the crowd should be tame with the students still on break. In what should be competitive matchup we like the home team with the points.
Penn State +2 -110