The Big Ten basketball season is more than a month old and Penn State will still be seeking its first conference road win when it travels to face Michigan State on Wednesday night at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing. The matchup will be broadcast at 6:30 on the Big Ten Network.
The Nittany Lions (10-14, 2-9) enter the contest on their first four-game losing streak of the season. Last time out against Iowa on Saturday, Penn State lost 77-64 after a 16-2 run by the Hawkeyes to open the game. Coach Pat Chambers and his players will be looking for the team's first win in East Lansing since 2009.
The No. 12 ranked Spartans (18-5, 7-3), meanwhile, have won three of their past four games. The loss was an ugly 42-41 defeat at Illinois on Jan. 31, but otherwise, coach Tom Izzo's squad has played well, defeating then-No. 22 Michigan 64-54 on Sunday.
Check out some things to watch for in the game below.
When Penn State has the ball...
-Billy Oliver returned to limiting minutes at Iowa after missing Penn State's previous four games with concussion-like symptoms. After a few more days of practice to get back in the swing of things, keep an eye on how he works his way back into the team's offense.
-Draymond Green is Michigan State's leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points per game. He'll be hard for the Lions to stop at the other end, so the best defense against him might be taking the offense straight at him down low. If Penn State can force him off the floor with early foul trouble, it will be a big equalizer on the road.
-It's a simple concept, but Penn State has to get its shooting percentage out of the 30-39 percent range, where it's been far too often lately. A number in that range simply won't get it done at an arena where the Spartans haven't lost a game all season.
When Michigan State has the ball...
-Penn State has matched up well on the boards with a lot of teams in conference this season, but Michigan State isn't one of them. The Spartans are ranked No. 11 nationally in rebounds per game at 39.9, so the Lions will have to put forth their best effort down low to limit second chances and stay alive in this game on the road.
-Michigan State is also ranked No. 31 in the country nationally in field goal percentage, meaning it takes many of the shots it wants to take. The Lions must take the middle away from guys like Green and Derrick Nix and force some deeper, lower percentage shots from the Spartans to hang.
Not only does Michigan State matchup well against Penn State's weaknesses, it matches up against Penn State's strengths,too. There are good teams in the Big Ten that can't say that (Wisconsin, Illinois, to name a couple) and the Lions have given them a run for their money. It's hard to see that happening this time around, though, especially on the road. Pick: Michigan State, 76-59