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Penn State vs. Wisconsin preview: Nittany Lions kick off Big Ten with tough road test

Penn State has won four straight heading into the start of conference play, but things will get more difficult as the team begins to take on the toughest teams in the conference. They start with Wisconsin on the road, their first away test of the year.

Jamie Sabau

The Penn State Nittany Lions start off Big Ten play with what should be an unbelievably difficult game, as they head to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers Thursday night.

The Nittany Lions have won four straight, but none of those came against quality teams, and most importantly, none have come on the road. Penn State has yet to play a true road game this season: the team had three games in Puerto Rico as part of a tip-off tournament, and played in Philadelphia against La Salle, but that was at the Palestra, and while the RPI considers it a "semi-away" game, the fans were mainly there for Penn State.

Nothing the young squad has done this year will prepare it to play at Wisconsin: The Kohl Center has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the hardest home courts to win on in the nation. But the Badgers haven't been invincible in Madison this year, with two of their four losses coming at home, against a very strong Creighton team and an unranked Virginia squad in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Wisconsin in 2012-2013 is very similar to previous editions of Bo Ryan's squad: they play slowly, waiting to crack teams offensively with the deliberate swing offense and forcing teams to go deep in the shot clock with exceptional defense.

Jared Berggren is Ryan's prototypical big with shooting touch who leads the team in scoring and almost in rebounding -- oddly enough, 6'1 guard Ben Brust is tops in boards. They only turn the ball over 14.5 times per 100 possessions, the top figure of any team in the country.

The game is at 8:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.