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11/19 Big Ten Recap: Penn State Impresses

Recap all the Big Ten action from Tuesday night.

NCAA Basketball: Bucknell at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten had three teams in action on Tuesday night, including two of the league’s better teams so far in Maryland and Penn State. All told, the Big Ten went 2-1 on the night after Northwestern blew a game at home against Radford.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-Penn State Nittany Lions 98, Bucknell Bison 70

After beating Georgetown last week, Penn State entered Tuesday night’s matchup against Bucknell with plenty of momentum. The Nittany Lions were hoping to build on the team’s early season success against a relatively beatable opponent at home. All told, Penn State cruised to a 98-70 win over the Bison. The win was so good that it bumped up the team nearly 10 spots on KenPom.

Lamar Stevens was the star of the night for Penn State, finishing with 27 points and eight rebound. Mike Watkins also had a big night with 18 points. Penn State ended up finishing with an impressive 1.32 points per possession.

This isn’t a win that’s going to turn many heads nationally, but it’s a notable one. Bucknell is a top 150 team on KenPom, which is the type of opponent that’s given Penn State a lot of trouble in recent years. Just last year, Penn State lost to two non-con opponents in DePaul and Bradley that were between 118th and 161 on KenPom. That fact that Penn State leveled the Bison on Tuesday speaks volumes.

Penn State will hope it can keep things rolling over the weekend as the team faces another team in Bucknell’s stratosphere with Yale on Saturday.

The Rest:

-No. 6 Maryland Terrapins 74, Fairfield Stags 55

Not much needs to be said about this one. Maryland hosted a bad Fairfield team at home on Tuesday night and cruised to an easy win. Jalen Smith led the team with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Terps will now prepare for a game agains ta much better George Mason team at home on Friday night.

-Radford Highlanders 67, Northwestern Wildcats 56

Despite losing the team’s opener to Merrimack, things were looking up for Northwestern. The team had scored an upset victory over Providence last week and seemed to be improving. Unfortunately, that didn’t hold up on Tuesday night, as Northwestern lost to Radford at home by a 67-56 final score.

Now, let’s make this clear. Radford is much better than Merrimack and actually isn’t a bad team in its own right. The Highlanders are 116th nationally on KenPom and actually have a decent shot of making the NCAA Tournament. However, it’s also not a team Northwestern should be losing to at home by double-digits. The offense came up particularly small in this one with only 0.82 points per possession.

Northwestern will now get a few days off and get back into action at home on Friday against Norfolk State. If the Wildcats are going to avoid a terrible slide into Thanksgiving, this is a game that needs to be a win.