Penn State men’s basketball has some momentum.
A pair of wins over Indiana and Northwestern have the Lions with some confidence heading into its matchup with the No. 3 team in the country at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry knows Purdue probably better than any opposing head coach in the country.
He worked under coach Matt Painter from 2019-21, where he was an assistant coach before taking the Penn State job after last season.
Shrewsberry knows the Boilers like the back of his hand, having coached their star players. He also knows that this will not be a typical game.
“Those are my friends,” he said. “I’ll come out of the locker room a little bit earlier so I can go down and talk to those guys before the game. Even the players, we went through a lot in two years—the guys that were there for a long time, even the guys that were freshmen. So I’m as thrilled as can be for them. I watch every single game that they play. That’s why it’s not hard for me to get the scout ready.”
The Boilers are coming off a disappointing home loss to Wisconsin and probably won’t be ranked third when the new top 25 comes out. But Purdue still has one of the nation’s best teams and has a solid chance to get Painter to his first Final Four.
The high point of Purdue’s season thus far has been a brief No. 1 ranking that only lasted for a few days and ended when the Boilers lost on a buzzer-beater at Rutgers. Shrewsberry is happy to see his old school sustaining success and having what could be a national championship-caliber team.
I’m as thrilled as can be for them. I watch every single game that they play. That’s why it’s not hard for me to get the scout ready. That’s what I do with my son, probably next to me, sitting there watching. …My 8-year-old daughter knows people; she went to the mall back in Indianapolis this weekend. She’s like, ‘hey, that’s Brandon Newman [on a poster.]’
Purdue has four players averaging in double figures. Leading the Boilers in scoring are Jaden Ivey (16.5 PPG) and 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey (15.6 PPG). Trevion Williams (13 PPG) and Sasha Stefanovic (11.2) are also key contributors. Collectively, Purdue is second in the Big Ten in scoring, with its 85.9 points per game trailing only Iowa.
The Nittany Lions will need many things to fall their way to get a third straight win. They are currently 8.5 point underdogs at home, according to BetMGM. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for noon on the Big Ten Network. Penn State fans can also listen to Steve Jones and Dick Jerardi at any of these affiliates.
Coach Shrewsberry and Coach Painter remain close friends, and Shrewsberry said he’ll have fun trying to beat his friend.
“We’re gonna compete tooth and nail,” Shrewsberry said. “I know what kind of competitor Coach Painter is, and he’s going to try to beat my ass too, even though we’re friends. We’re competitors first, and then when the game’s over, I’ll go out and shake his hand.”