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12/17 Big Ten Preview: Penn State lone team in action

Sunday’s slate in the Big Ten includes only one game, a road matchup for the Nittany Lions.

NCAA Basketball: George Washington at Penn State Linsey Fagan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like every week there are less and less games on the Sunday slate. That is again the case today, with only the Penn State Nittany Lions in action.

Penn State will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on the George Mason Patriots in what could be an interesting game. The Nittany Lions enter the matchup looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since before Thanksgiving, while George Mason will look to rebound from a 23-point loss earlier in the week against Georgia Southern.

There’s only one game today so let’s get to it with a quick preview of the Penn State-George Mason matchup.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Penn State Nittany Lions vs. George Mason Patriots

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM ET/Watch Stadium
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-10)

Well, when you’re the only game then by default you’re the game of the day in the league. However, this one should still be an entertaining matchup.

Penn State is the more talented team in this matchup, and his more scoring threats, but it’s never easy going on the road. So this should be a good test for the Nittany Lions.

George Mason is 5-6 on the year with their best win being either at home against Binghamton or at James Madison — both of those teams rank outside the KenPom top 200. So the Patriots don’t necessarily have a marquee win, but they have played tough against big name opponents. That includes road tilts at Louisville and Auburn, where the Patriots were leading in the second half of each game.

The Patriots are led offensively by the trio of junior guards Otis Livingston II and Jaire Grayer, and freshman forward Goanar Mar. All three average more than 10 points per game, and combine for an average of 41.3 points per night. Livingston is a threat from outside, shooting 45.5 percent on 44 three-point attempts.

Penn State will have to limit the opportunities of this trio because after them there’s not a whole lot going on. The rest of the team averages a combined 27 points. So if the Nittany Lions get strong defense out of its backcourt, then they’ll be alright.

The Nittany Lions also will have a big size advantage in this matchup. Mar is the biggest guy on the team that plays regular minutes, and he’s only 6-foot-7. That’s not too small, but since he’s really the only big they have we should expect sophomores Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins to experience some success in the paint. Especially, if they get Mar into some early foul trouble — he averages 3.1 fouls per game and has gotten three fouls or more in eight of the team’s 11 games.

The size advantage should play a role in this game, but it’ll ultimately come down to whether or not George Mason hits some shots. They have some skilled guards in Livingston and Grayer, and if they turn it on today, George Mason will have a shot at the upset. Especially, if they get the crowd into it. However, I think Penn State keeps them in check for the most part, and the Patriots won’t have enough size down low to get it done.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Penn State

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Record against the spread this season: 16-10-1