Big Ten Tournament Preview: Penn State vs Minnesota

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota tries to take down Penn State for the third time, and keep the Nittany Lions from bursting their bubble.

By the Numbers:

Penn State

Team

Minnesota

15-16 (6-12)

Record

19-12 (8-10)

10

Seed

7

106

RPI

50

85

BPI

52

76

KenPom

52

69

Sagarin

49

March 13, 2014 - Banker's Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

6:30 PM EST - ESPN2/WatchESPN

Skinny:

It's Big Ten Tournament time!!! In the third game of the first round the Golden Gophers meet the Nittany Lions in the battle of the two-word team names and exceptional guards. On Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota thumped Penn State by 18 on senior night. Minnesota needs another performance like that today if they want to end up on the right side of the bubble. PSU on the other hand would likely need a run to the final game to even make the NIT, so Pat Chambers and his team should be playing every game like it is their last. Historically, neither team has had an exceptional record in the BTT. Both have never won a title and only made the final once.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Penn State

Pos.

Minnesota

D.J. Newbill

G

Deandre Mathieu

Tim Frazier

G

Andre Hollins

Ross Travis

G-F

Austin Hollins

Brandon Taylor

F

Joey King

Jordan Dickerson

C

Elliott Eliason

Players to Watch:

Tim Frazier: Frazier is going to play his heart out in this game, and if he has any luck the rest of the team will follow his example. The senior will need to shoot like he did in the first meeting with the Gophers, when he went 6 for 7 from the field to go along with 8 assists. Unfortunately his production has dropped a little in recent games and if he doesn't want his college career to end he will need to make sure his execution matches his effort.

Ross Travis: Travis was a big factor when the Lions only lost by 3 to Minnesota in State College. The forward scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Unfortunately for Penn State he failed to muster up another good performance on Sunday, but he gets another chance today.

Deandre Mathieu: Mathieu filled up the stat sheet in the first two meetings, combined he had 32 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals. The key for Mathieu today will be continuing to disrupt the Penn State offense and try to frustrate the dynamic duo of D.J. Newbill and Frazier. If he can get them off of their game then the Nittany Lions will have few answers on offense.

Maurice Walker: Walker came off the bench last weekend and scored 16 points, but perhaps more important was the fact that 8 of those points were earned at the free throw line. If the junior can get the Nittany Lions in foul trouble again it will be difficult for Penn State to stay in the game.

Prediction:

This game should be a tight one since both teams have had ample time to measure up one another. I'm going to take the Golden Gophers, simply because they are still playing for that NCAA bid. Minnesota 70 Penn State 68

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