Guest Opinion: Penn State's "Keys to the Game"

By mitchsmith

Penn State’s Keys to the Game

By Big 10 Rant Penn State Reporter Michael Barasch

Hello Iowa basketball fans! Tonight’s Iowa at Penn State match up is very exciting and I expect a tough battle in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Here are the keys to the game for Penn State.

1) Fast Break: Iowa’s offense poses a unique challenge to Penn State. The Hawkeyes are a team with a lot of speed who love the fast break and to run out early on teams. Over the last four games for the Nittany Lions they have seen some great offenses and have been able to neutralize the fast break, however, the Lions have not seen speed like Iowa’s yet. If Penn State can neutralize the glass especially offensively they will be able to slow down the fast break and make Iowa face Penn State’s set defense which has been a major improvement lately.

2) Turnovers: Penn State’s last five games have all been against Top 25 ranked opponents. They went 2-3 in those games and when the Lions were able to win the turnover battle they won the game. Against Michigan State and Illinois, Penn State’s defense caused an average 13 turnovers and on the other side of the ball Penn State only turned over the ball an average 8 times. In their 3 losses the Penn State offense turned over the ball an average 13 times and only produced defensively 6.7 turnovers. Against Iowa, Penn State needs to win the turnover battle in order to win the game.

3) Free-Throw Shooting: An unexpected strength for the Lions lately has been FT shooting. What seemed like a problem that would never be addressed last season creaped into the beginning of this season. However, during Big Ten play the Lions have done very well from the line. Over their last 5 games the Lions have gone 62-78 (79%) from the line. In fact in their last three games the Lions are 34-35 from the line. These are easy points that the Lions need to capitalize on to stay competitive.

4) Supporting Cast: Talor Battle is a phenomenal talent and has the possibility to go down as the greatest player in Penn State Basketball history. As we all know, one man doesn’t make a team. Battle needs the support from his fellow seniors. David Jackson and Jeff Brooks have done a great job stepping up so far this season, but in these final 11 games, their scoring is going to be needed more than ever. If Iowa can neutralize Jackson and Brooks and force the game onto Jones, Frazier and Battle the Lions could be in for a long night as production from the bench is few and far between.

There are your keys to tonight’s game against Iowa. I expect a great game, but Penn State is looking to rebound after two very tough losses and the home energy may be too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome. I’m looking for Andrew Jones to have a huge night and the Penn State defense to produce 12-15 turnovers.

Prediction: Iowa 61 PSU 70

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