Penn State will face the toughest test of its Big Ten season to date on Sunday when it hosts No. 12 ranked Indiana for a noon tipoff at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Hoosiers roll into Happy Valley with a 14-1 record and owners of impressive victories against then-No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 10 and then-No. 2 Ohio State on New Year's Eve. Their only loss came in their conference opener against then-No. 17 Michigan State on December 28.
Led by freshman forward Cody Zeller and his 14.5 points per game, Indiana boasts a dynamic offense ranked No. 5 in field goal percentage at 50.5 percent and No. 9 overall in points per game at 82.0. Five Hoosiers average double figures in scoring and two more average 8.0 or more points per game.
Penn State, meanwhile, pulled out an impressive 65-45 win against Purdue on Thursday night thanks to hot shooting from Billy Oliver (21 points on 7-11 shooting from 3-point territory) and a +12 rebounding margin. The Nittany Lions' Big Ten season appeared to be in real trouble after back-to-back losses against Michigan and Northwestern to open, but now they'll look to even their conference record with lots of momentum on their side.
Check out some things to watch for in the game below.
When Penn State has the ball...
-Michigan State played defense with its offense, attacking Zeller and getting him into foul trouble early. As a result, he was held to four points on the evening and Indiana came apart at the seams without him. If Penn State guards Tim Frazier and Jermaine Marshall can get Zeller in trouble again, the two teams will be much more even with him off the floor.
-Penn State played a clean game against Purdue, turning the ball over just 10 times. Taking care of the ball will again be of paramount importance here, as the Lions will start outgunned offensively. Giving the Hoosiers extra opportunities would be a dangerous proposition.
-The Lions would be smart to imitate Indiana's balanced scoring. Bill Oliver can't his seven 3-pointer every night, so his teammates need to step up an help him out. Only Frazier averages double-figure scoring for Penn State. Moving toward changing that would be a good step for the Lions' offense.
When Indiana has the ball...
-Penn State will again enter with a rebounding edge, averaging 1.8 rebounds more per game than Indiana. It sounds simple, but Penn State needs to exploit that advantage, as it doesn't have many against the Hoosiers.
-The Hoosiers are a deep team and will throw a lot of scorers at the Penn State defense. The Lions will have to guard well as a team to have a chance.
Indiana is off to a great start this season, but the Lions did defeat the Hoosiers twice last season. Granted, Indiana has held onto a lot more of its scorers than Penn State has, but the fact remains that this team was very beatable both in Bloomington and Indianapolis at the Big Ten Tournament last season. If Penn State can use its home court to its advantage and play a clean game, it'll have a chance against these Hoosiers. Ultimately, though, it's hard to go against Indiana's depth. The Hoosiers will win a tight one. Pick: Indiana, 71-64.