Time: 3:30pm ET
In one of the most unlikely runs in the Big Ten Tournament, the Penn St. Nittany Lions have plowed their way through Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the first time in program history.
On the flip side, the Ohio St. Buckeyes have advanced to the championship game, retaining its perfect Big Ten Tournament semifinal record. Every time the Buckeyes have made the semifinals, they have advanced to the championship game. They have also been the one seed the most times in the Big Ten Tournament's treasured history. This is the Buckeyes third consecutive Big Ten Tournament final appearance, falling to Purdue the first year and winning it last year.
Penn State will look to earn it's first conference tournament crown, which would be the programs first Big Ten men's basketball crown of any kind. Penn State would love to finally raise a men's basketball Big Ten Championship banner.
Ohio State will look to make it two straight Big Ten Tournament titles to go along with their two straight Big Ten regular season title. Last year they tied with Purdue and Michigan State in the regular season standings.
Penn State has been quite unpredictable this season. After scoring just 36 points .. and winning... yes, winning, against Wisconsin on Friday, the Nittany Lions charged back and scored 61 today.
The road to the final for Penn State included a 61-55 win over 11th-seeded Indiana, a shocking 36-33 win over 3rd-seeded Wisconsin and a 61-48 win over 7th-seeded Michigan State. Purdue falling in the quarterfinal to Michigan State has helped out the Nittany Lions.
Ohio State's road here consisted of a 67-61 win in overtime in a hard fought battle with Northwestern and a 68-61 win over arch-rival Michigan.
Ohio State rides a six game win streak and Penn State rides a four game win streak. Someones streak will come to an end today.
Penn State will be sweating it out if they lose to see if they have made the NCAA Tournament, my best guess would be yes. Making it to the final of this tournament is quite an accomplishment for the Nittany Lions. They can end all discussion and win the auto-bid. That is what they indeed intend to do.
(More after the jump)
A Penn State auto-bid would give the Nittany Lions a bypass of the First Four games.. and they would avoid having to play seven games to get to the Final Four.. which would be a shocker if they get there.. to say the least.
The previous games between these two teams has told us one thing... when Penn State and Battle are on, they have a chance, when Jon Diebler gets going, Penn State has no chance.
In this game, it will be key for PSU to defend the three. Don't let the Buckeyes get threes off.. contest their shots. Ohio State has to do a good job of containing Talor Battle.
To me, this game all depends on if Ohio State is clicking on all cylinders.. if that is the case.. Penn State has no chance. If Penn State can disrupt the Buckeyes enough to make them uncomfortable and not confident.. then the Nittany Lions have a good chance. Penn State has never beaten the number one team in the nation, they are 0-12 in program history.
With a win, Penn State could make program history with their first Big Ten crown and their first win over a number one team as they look to establish some basketball tradition at Penn State.
My prediction is Ohio State though. I have to stick with the Buckeyes in this one. The spread favors the Buckeyes by 9.5 points.