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Penn State-Northwestern: 5 Things to Know Before Penn State Looks for 4th Straight Win

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Ace Baldwin

Penn State is red hot, having won three straight.

On Super Bowl Sunday, it takes on a team that it arguably should have beat but didn’t in the prequel.

Here are five things to know before Penn State-Northwestern II.


HOT HOT HOT

PSU is playing its best basketball of this season and, thus, the Mike Rhoades era. Since blowing a 16-point lead at home to Minnesota three Saturdays ago, Penn State’s won three straight, all by double digits. The most recent triumph was an 89-79 win over Iowa at the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday night. Ace Baldwin took over for Penn State in the second half, scoring 18 points after being held to four in the first half to end with 22.

Baldwin will likely have to be on again for Penn State to win at Northwestern.

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Penn State’s missed a few chances at wins this season, and one of them was in its first meeting against Northwestern, which took place last month at the Bryce Jordan Center. PSU led for the entire first half, but couldn’t close the deal. That issue plagued Penn State for the season’s first two-plus months, but lately, it seems the team has figured it out. Against Iowa, Penn State was down by seven with less than 10 minutes left and came back. Now, it has a chance to follow that up by beating a good Northwestern team on the road. That task won’t be easy, and its something Penn State’s already tired and failed to do once.

BOO IS SCARY

It feels like Boo Buie has been at Northwestern since Ronald Regan was president.

In reality, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard is in his fifth season at Northwestern and has been starting games since he was a true freshman in 2019-20.

Every Big Ten coach but Chris Collins probably won’t be sad to see Buie exhaust his eligibility at the end of the season because he’s quite good. Buie averages 19 points per game, which is fourth overall in the Big Ten and second amongst guards. He’ll have quite a challenge Sunday assuming he’s guarded by Penn State’s Ace Baldwin, who’s one of America’s best defenders. The first time Buie played against Baldwin and PSU, he ended with 17 points and eight assists. Baldwin also had eight steals that night, tying the program record.

THE STANDINGS

It’s that time of year, friends. The time when we start to talk about standings. Here’s the deal. Northwestern comes into this game with a 7-5 Big Ten record, good for fourth in the conference. Penn State’s a game behind at 6-6 and tied for six. The problem is, there are three teams either tied or slightly ahead of Penn State but behind Northwestern. Of those three teams, Minnesota’s ahead at 6-5, Michigan State is also 6-6 with a tiebreaker over Penn State and Indiana is 6-6 without a tiebreaker due to Penn State’s win last Saturday in Bloomington.

Minnesota takes on Iowa in Iowa City Sunday, with tip-off scheduled for 3. Iowa’s only a game behind Penn State, with PSU holding the tiebreaker. Indiana is at Purdue— arguably the best team in the country— tonight at 8, and Michigan State’s currently hosting No. 10 Illinois.

How much a Penn State win would mean standings-wise remains to be seen, but it would get PSU to above .500 in the league, which would be big.

HOW TO WATCH

Penn State comes into Evanston as a 8-point underdog. Here’s how to watch and listen.

TV: Big Ten Network 

TV announcers: Dave Revsine (PXP), Robbie Hummel (color)

Radio : Penn State Sports Network

Radio announcers: Steve Jones (PXP), Dick Jerardi (color) 

Sirius XM: Ch. 382, SXM App Ch. 972

 

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