Illinois Vs. Penn State: Nittany Lions Seek Another Upset

When Michigan State entered the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, it left disappointed.

No. 16 Illinois will look to avoid the same fate Tuesday night when it takes on Penn State in Happy Valley at 9:00 P.M. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

The Nittany Lions (9-6, 2-2) have struggled at points this season, including an embarassing home loss to Maine a few weeks ago. The did manage to work the Spartans 40-36 on the glass on Saturday, however, and have established all four senior starters as legitimate options on offense, as Jeff Brooks, Talor Battle, David Jackson and Andrew Jones all reached double figures last game. All in all, Penn State looks to be playing its best basketball of the season at the moment.

Illinois might be equally as hot, however. The Fighting Illini (13-3, 3-0) shot 81% in the first half on Thursday night against Northwestern on the way to a blowout win. They've also taken their first three Big Ten games this season by an average of 14 points and breaking 85 points on offense against both Iowa and Northwestern.

Keys to the game after the jump.

When Illinois Has The Ball

  • Penn State's leaky perimeter defense will likely struggle against Demetri McCamey and D.J. Richardson most of the night. If the Lions can play well defending the interior, though, as they have much of the season, they should be able to keep the game in a manageable scoring range for themselves.
  • Illinois can't be afraid to heave the deep ones. Penn State's perimeter defense has been pretty bad for most of the season and is probably the most exploitable part of the Lions' game. Fortunately for the Illini, McCamey hits at north of 50% from the arc, so the potential exists for him to have a very big game if his teammates can get him the ball.

When Penn State Has The Ball

  • The Lions need to keep the stellar scoring distribution from the last two games going in case Talor Battle or one of the other big scorers has a bad night. Too often, Penn State has had trouble this season when players have gotten into foul trouble or have plain had off shooting nights. The support players need to continue to focus on easing the burden on their big guns by getting on the board.
  • Illinois forwards Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis should attempt to attack Jeff Brooks down low and get him into foul trouble. When he is off the floor for Penn State, the Lions struggle offensively. With a couple of quick fouls, the Illini can send him to the bench and make things much easier for themselves defensively.

Overall

Illinois certainly has the edge in talent, but Penn State is playing well right now. If the Illini don't bring it, this could be a dogfight that goes down until the very end. This is a game Illinois has to have to keep pace with red hot Ohio State and Purdue. A loss will put the Illini squarely on the second rung of the conference with Michigan State and a couple other teams, a place they certainly don't want to be. 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join BT Powerhouse

You must be a member of BT Powerhouse to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at BT Powerhouse. You should read them.

Join BT Powerhouse

You must be a member of BT Powerhouse to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at BT Powerhouse. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker