Penn State basketball looks to break a two-game losing streak Wednesday night against Indiana at the Bryce Jordan center. Here are five things to know
THE MIDDLE OF THE GAUNTLET
Indiana is Penn State’s second opponent of a three-game gauntlet. This tough Big Ten stretch started Sunday night against No. 1 Purdue at Philadelphia’s palestra and will end next Tuesday night against No. 18 Wisconsin in Madison. It would have featured Penn State facing three ranked teams, but thanks to Indiana’s losses to Iowa and Northwestern this past week, the Hoosiers dropped from No. 15 to out of the top 25.
Nonetheless, IU can still cause many problems for Penn State.
‘INDIANA, OH INDIANA’
Despite no longer being ranked after consecutive losses by a combined three points, Indiana is still a good bet to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Big 10 Player of the Year candidate Trace Jackson-Davis leads Indiana. Jackson-Davis is averaging 17.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, leading the team in both statistics. In the backcourt, Jalen Hood-Schifino is averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 assists, and fellow guard Xavier Johnson is close to averaging double-figures in scoring at 9.9 points per game.
Johnson is averaging 4.9 assists and can do damage when he’s on.
Penn State has a chance to hand Indiana its third straight loss. If that happens, IU fans may think about missing the tourney.
PICKETT’S (CONTINUED) CHARGE
Jalen Pickett is so good that I’ll mention him in every Penn State basketball preview I write.
Pickett leads the Big Ten in assists (7.3 APG), is fifth in scoring average (17.9 PPG) and leads Penn State in rebounding (7.6 RPG). The 6-foot-4 guard is a threat to post a triple-double every time he plays, and accomplished that feat in a win over Butler this past November. He’s one of the best players in college basketball and is in his last year of eligibility, meaning, obviously, that this is his last chance to get to an NCAA Tournament. Wins over Indiana, Wisconsin or both would help Penn State get there. The team is currently on the bubble, and whatever happens, No. 22 will ball out for Penn State.
BACK TO .500
Penn State has lost two in a row, at Michigan last Wednesday and against Purdue at Philadelphia’s Palestra this past Sunday. The Big Ten is consistently one of, if not the best, conference in college basketball. A .500 record in conference play should give Penn State a fair chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Penn State has a losing record in the Big Ten at 2-3 and can get back to .500 by beating Indiana. Penn State’s made the tournament twice since 2000, with a losing conference record in 2000-01 and a 9-9 record in 2010-11. So, being at .500 in the Big Ten isn’t a bad place.
HOW TO WATCH, LISTEN
Penn State basketball and Indiana are scheduled to tipoff at 7 Wednesday night on the Big Ten Network. Penn State is a 1.5-point favorite according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Here’s more information on how to watch and listen to the game.
Announcers: Brandon Gaudin (pxp), Stephen Brando (analyst)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
SiriusXM: Ch. 388, 978 (app)