Penn State basketball is coming off a heartbreaking three-point loss at Wisconsin this past Wednesday. The team is favored to beat Nebraska at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday afternoon. Here are five things to know before the game.
1. BACK TO .500
Penn State’s Big Ten season has been up-and-down thus far. The team has looked super at times, particularly in its wins at Illinois and against Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center, has been inconsistent at others, such as during its 83-79 win over Iowa in which Penn State won the first half by 18 points and lost the second half by 14, and has had disappointing results, losing to Michigan State and Purdue (Palestra) at home and Michigan and Wisconsin on the road.
Being at or around .500 isn’t a bad place to be in a conference as strong as the Big Ten, especially with a 12-6 overall record. A win over Nebraska would keep Penn State firmly in the hunt, and a loss would be a signal that the bubble could be bursting.
2. SENIOR DAY SPOILERS
Last season’s game against Nebraska at the Bryce Jordan Center was a disaster for the home team.
Penn State came into the game less than 48 hours removed from a feel-good win over Northwestern.
Nebraska came in with a 1-16 Big Ten record. Yet, for whatever reason, the Huskers crushed the home team 93-70, spoiling Senior Day and John Harrar’s last home game at Penn State.
Nebraska is better this year but so is Penn State.
A benefit to last year’s loss to Nebraska was that it didn’t damage Penn State’s NCAA Tournament prospects because those prospects were virtually nonexistent. This year, that isn’t the case.
3. HUSKER POWER (SORT OF)
Nebraska is improved this season. The Huskers (10-9, 3-5 Big Ten) have eclipsed their overall win total (8) from last season and, with a win over Penn State today, would match last year’s Big Ten win total before February. 6-foot-9 forward Derrick Walker leads the squad with 13.6 points per game, and 6-foot-7 guard Sam Griesel also averages in double figures with 11.4 PPG. Guard Keisei Tominagi, born in Nagoya, Japan, also contributes to Nebraska’s offense, averaging just under 10 points per game, and forward Juwan Gary averages 9.5. Collectively, Nebraska is next-to-last in the Big Ten in scoring average offensively and sixth defensively.
4. THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON?
There are 12 Big Ten games left after this one, so a loss to Nebraska wouldn’t be doomsday for Penn State. But it wouldn’t be ideal. Losing a game as important and as frustrating as this past Wednesday’s game at Wisconsin was can be demoralizing, and losing a game three days later would only deepen the cut. Penn State is, on the surface, better than Nebraska, and its playing the Huskers at the Bryce Jordan Center in the only Saturday home game of this season, so the atmosphere should be decent. It’s a solid setup for Penn State to bounce back, but also a chance for a devastating loss.
5. HOW TO WATCH
Penn State is a 9.5-point favorite according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:15 on the Big Ten Network. For fans who won’t be at the Bryce Jordan Center, here’s how to watch and listen to the game.
TV Announcers: Jason Ross Jr. (PXP), Jess Settlers (color)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
Radio Announcers: Steve Jones (PXP), Dick Jerardi (color)
SiriusXM Channel: 372 (also 372 for the app)