There is a lot at stake for both teams in today's matchup between Ohio State and Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Ohio State, ranked #1 in the nation for the second time this year, can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title, and stay on pace for an outright championship.
Penn State is looking for a big upset and a signature win to boost their NCAA tournament resume.
Gametime is 9:00 PM Eastern on the Big Ten Network.
Ohio State comes into this contest after easily winning two home games last week: Tuesday over Illinois and Sunday over Indiana. The Buckeyes have only lost two games in conference play this year, and both losses were on the road.
Penn State had the weekend off after taking care of business at Northwestern on Thursday. The Nittany Lions have been solid at home in conference play, with wins over Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin among others.
This will be the second meeting between these two this season. On January 15 in Columbus, Ohio State eked out a close victory. Jared Sullinger converted a three-point play with 13 seconds left to break the tie and give the Buckeyes the hard-fought win. After the win, Ohio State jumped to #1 in the nation, a spot they would keep almost a month.
In addition to the deciding basket, Sullinger had 16 other points and his teammate Aaron Craft had 19 points and 7 assists. Craft also did an excellent job making life difficult for Penn State's Talor Battle, who only converted on 1 of 10 three-point attempts.
Penn State, other than Battle, had an excellent shooting night. Even with their leading scorer's off-night, PSU shot 55% for the game. Take away Battle's shots and the percentage jumps to 71%. They also dominated OSU on the boards 29-17.
Tonight will be will be the last home game for Talor Battle, Jeff Brooks, Andrew Jones and David Jackson. A win tonight would be the biggest win of their career, and a great way to say goodbye to the Bryce Jordan Center. An upset by Penn State would certainly be surprising, but it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who has followed this team throughout the Big Ten season. They battled both Purdue and Ohio State down to the wire in road games. They have a few lopsided wins and a few bad losses. That is to be expected for a team that is .500 in conference play. The Nittany Lions play well at home, and they seem to have a knack for playing well against the top tier of the league.
The previous meeting taught Ohio State that Penn State is not an easy win, even at home. It will be even harder in Happy Valley, but the Buckeyes are #1 for a reason. They are very talented and they keep winning. They will not overlook PSU and recent road losses to Wisconsin and Purdue should help them keep their focus.
Penn State hasn't played since last Thursday. Ohio State played Indiana just two days ago, and Thad Matta normally doesn't go deep into his bench (although Sullinger got a lot of rest on Sunday). This might not affect the game at all, but it could be a factor. Expect the announcers to bring it up if the game is close towards the end.
It should be a good game, but I think Ohio State will win this and beat Wisconsin on Saturday to win an outright league title. Buckeyes by 7.