Penn State scraped and fought hard at Wisconsin this past Saturday, but ultimately fell, 51-49.
Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions were one shot away from beating a borderline Top Ten team on the road, and that’s something that should encourage coach Micah Shrewsberry and company. Now, Penn State is back at the Bryce Jordan Center for just the second time in four weeks, and has what should be a more winnable game ahead of it.
In year three of the Juwan Howard era, Michigan hasn’t lived up to expectations. Coming off an Elite Eight appearance in 2020-21, the Wolverines started this season ranked sixth in the AP poll. Through 20 games, however, Michigan is just 11-9 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines are led by 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson, who comes in averaging 18.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. In Michigan’s last three contests— against Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue— Dickinson has scored 25, 26 and 28 points, respectively. Dickinson has scored at least 25 points in five of his last seven games. Despite that, however, Michigan is just a modest 4-3 in those games, and the Wolverines will have to be better than that down the stretch to feel comfortable about their NCAA tournament chances.
Also for Michigan, Eli Brooks (11.7 PPG) and Caleb Houstan (10.5 PPG) average in double figures. Collectively, Michigan’s offense ranks seventh in the Big Ten in scoring average, while Penn State ranks last of 14 teams. The Nittany Lions didn’t help their offense totals with that 49-point output at Wisconsin— only 13 of which came in the first half.
On the other end of the floor, only three teams in the Big Ten have allowed more points than Michigan, and only three have allowed fewer than Penn State.
Tipoff is at 9 on ESPN2.