Penn State will see its first action in a week Wednesday evening as Iowa invades the Bryce Jordan Center for a 6:30 tip off on the Big Ten Network.
When last fans saw the Nittany Lions, they were putting the finishing touches on a heartbreaking 63-62 loss to then No. 13 Purdue at Mackey Arena. The Lions led as late as five seconds remaining, but a killer jumper by JaJuan Johnson with 3.4 remaining in the game ended the Lions road trip to Purdue and Ohio State with two straight losses.
Enter Iowa, owner of the Big Ten's worst record. The Hawkeyes (8-11, 1-6) only got their first win on Sunday when they took down Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Three Iowa players average double figures. Matt Gatens leads the team at 13.2 points per game. Fresno State transfer Bryce Cartwright averages 10.7 points and freshman Melsahn Basabe contributes 10.2 in addition to seven rebounds per game. The Hawkeyes actually rank ahead of Penn State in several offensive categories nationally, however, Penn State has the advantage since Big Ten play opened.
This is a crucial game for the Nittany Lions. At 10-8, Penn State has a lot of work to do to make the NCAA Tournament. Though the Lions own impressive wins over Michigan State and Illinois in addition to narrow losses at Ohio State and Purdue, they also have some bad losses, chief among them Maine at home at the end of December. A loss to Iowa would fall in the latter category. If this team has any postseason hopes, it can ill afford a loss at home to Iowa.