While neither Penn State or Iowa are in serious contention for the Big Ten title, both teams have a lot to gain by picking up a win tonight in a snow covered Happy Valley. For Penn State it's a necessary win against a inferior opponent in the eyes of the selection committee. For Iowa it's a second straight conference win and a step in the right direction for a program that has struggled to find itself under their new head coach Fran McCaffery.
Iowa is coming off an offensive explosion having scored 91 points in a rout of Indiana which improved their overall record to 8-11, 1-6 in the Big Ten. While Iowa has struggled to find wins in a tough Big Ten schedule, Matt Gatens, Bryce Cartwright, and Melsahn Basabe have turned out to be consistent scorers anchoring a Hawkeye team that has struggled defensively, while producing a consistent offensive product all season long.
Penn State on the other hand has played maybe the toughest 5 game stretch of any team in the nation, almost having come out of the gauntlet with 4 huge wins. While the Nittany Lion's fell short in two of those contests by a combined 4 points, they have made an early case for an NCAA bid.
A win against Iowa should keep the Nittany Lions headed in the right direction, although tonight's game is only one of many they will need to win in the coming weeks to keep their dancing hopes alive. Continued play by Jeff Brooks, David Jackson, and Andrew Jones will help Talor Battle carry the load and give them a real chance at a bid.
Overall both teams will need to focus on the defensive side of the ball and preventing careless turnovers. Iowa will need more production from their bench to keep up with a long athletic Penn State squad, and Penn State will need to be sure to bring the same level of intensity they have had over the past 4 games.