It is here. After seven months of waiting, the 2015-2016 college basketball season is finally underway. While nine of the fourteen teams in the Big Ten played their first games on Friday, this Saturday is headlined by the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers as they look to get off to strong starts this year. Here's a more in depth look at what to watch for on Saturday.
Game of the Night: Virginia Military Institute @ Penn State - 1:00 PM ET (BTNPlus)
Penn State is set to kick off their season in State College against the VMI Keydets of the Southern Conference. It's been an interesting offseason for the Nittany Lions, losing one-man-show D.J. Newbill (20.7 PPG last season) to graduation, along with key guys Geno Thorpe and Ross Travis. However, Pat Chambers and company bring in two four-star recruits with Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins. Both project to be in the starting lineup and will try to make their presence felt during their first career collegiate minutes.
Virginia Military Institute finished middle of the pack in the Southern Conference last year, going 11-19 on the season and 7-11 in the conference. However, the Keydets did happen to average the fifth most points in the nation per game with 80.5 in 2014-2015. They return last year's leading scorers, junior QJ Peterson (19.6 PPG) and senior Tim Marshall (11.7 PPG), and last year's leading rebounder Phillip Anglade (5.8 RPG).
In this matchup, its clear that Penn State has more natural talent. However, this VMI squad is experienced and riddled with upperclassmen. Don't be surprised to see VMI take leads during stretches of this game, and maybe even pull away with it. That being said, Penn State still has a very solid shot to get their first win at home.
Mississippi Valley State @ Nebraska - 8:00 PM ET (BTNPlus)
In Lincoln, the Cornhuskers play host to the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State on Saturday night. After losing star Terran Petteway to graduation, Nebraska will be carried by senior Shavon Shields, who head coach Tim Miles describes as "an NBA talent". Shields comes off a season in which he averaged 15.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG.
The player to watch, however, will be freshman point guard Glynn Watson. A four-star recruit, Watson hopes to fill a void in the Husker backcourt for the coming years. He also happens to be out of St. Joseph High School in Westchester, IL, the same school that has produced Big Ten talents Demetri McCamey and Evan Turner, as well as the legendary Isiah Thomas. Just to be apart of that list alone is special.
The players to watch from MSVS will be junior Isaac Williams (9.8 PPG last season) and Ta'Jay Henry. However, the Delta Devils are younger, less talented and less experienced than the Huskers. This explains why they are ranked 349th of 351 teams in the KenPom rankings. Should this be a blowout? Yes. Will it be a blowout? Barring some pretty crazy scenario, this will be an easy way for Tim Miles and company to open the season with a win.