Penn State hasn’t won three straight Big Ten games yet this season. It has a chance to do that Thursday evening at Ohio State. Here are five things to know as NCAA Tournament questions keep getting closer to being answered.
BUBBLE, BUBBLE, BUBBLE
Penn State’s players, such as Jalen Pickett, might not be thinking too much about the NCAA Tournament right now.
“It’s not March yet,” Pickett told reporters at Penn State’s weekly media availability Monday. “Selection Sunday has not come up yet, so just 1-0. Just trying to keep doing my best, keep getting wins, build the resume and, hopefully, we can get there.”
Although Penn State’s team might not be caught up in the tournament hoopla yet, its fanbase certainly is. Penn State is squarely on the bubble with four games left, and a loss to what’s been a bad Ohio State would be quite troublesome.
Penn State beat the Big Ten’s worst team, record-wise, Saturday in Minnesota. Now, it takes on the Big Ten’s second-worst team. Historically, Ohio State hasn’t been near the bottom of the Big Ten often, but that’s what’s going on this season. Ohio State is 11-16 overall and 3-13 in the Big Ten, and in fact, is the only Big Ten team to lose to Minnesota.
Going solely on records, Penn State has the edge, and news that broke earlier this week further helps Penn State.
A KEY LOSS FOR OHIO STATE
One of Ohio State’s best players won’t be playing against Penn State or anybody else for the rest of the season. 6-foot-8, 255-pound Zed Key, who averages 10.8 points (third on Ohio State) and 7.5 rebounds (first), will be undergoing shoulder surgery. Ohio State can’t afford to lose bodies, and Key is one of its biggest and best.
Unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, Pickett isn’t Penn State’s “only hope” at making the NCAA Tournament, but he’s at the top of the list.
Pickett has been awesome all season, and last week, he was the best player in college basketball. He scored 41 points last Tuesday against Illinois and 32 Saturday against Minnesota, adding eight assists in each game and only turning it over a total of four times. Pickett has a chance to be great again against Ohio State, and college basketball fans will have the privilege of watching.
HOW TO WATCH
Penn State and Ohio State are scheduled to tip off at 6:30 on FS1. Ohio State’s a 2.5-point favorite, according to Fanduel Sportsbook. Here’s more information on how to watch and listen to the game.
TV Announcers: Brandon Gaudin (PXP), Stephen Brado (analyst)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
Radio Announcers: Steve Jones (PXP), Dick Jerardi (color)
SiriusXM: Ch. 380 (regular), Ch. 970 (app)