Penn State (14-15) at Northwestern (12-17)
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will attempt to halt their six-game slide as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions at Welsh-Ryan Arena for a Big Ten Conference bout.
Coach Pat Chambers's Nittany Lions pulled off a shocking, 65-63, upset of Ohio State last Thursday, but they could not build on their momentum and suffered a 71-66 setback to Wisconsin over the weekend. The loss to the Badgers dropped Penn State to a 14-15 overall record, including a 5-11 mark in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions have a glaring weakness on the defensive end, which is why they are ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense with an allowance of 72.2 ppg. PSU has held its league rivals to a lesser 71.3 ppg, however it is also netting just 65.9 ppg in conference action.
The Wildcats fell 54-47 to Nebraska on Saturday. Coach Chris Collins's team has exhibited its lack of firepower throughout its current slide and been held to 60 points or less in five of its last six games. Northwestern is tied with PSU in the conference standings, just a half game in front of the last place Purdue Boilermakers.
PSU owns a 27-15 advantage in its all-time series versus the Wildcats, including wins in seven of the last 10 games, and an 11-9 margin when playing in Evanston.
The Nittany Lions connected on 50 percent of their field-goal tries versus the Badgers and converted 9-of-13 free-throw attempts. PSU still came up short after it was limited to a 1-of-13 clip from 3-point range and watched Wisconsin sink eight shots from beyond the arc to go along with 19 makes at the charity stripe. PSU scored 50 points in the paint, a Big Ten season-high mark and the second-most this season. D.J. Newbill led the way with 23 points in 39 minutes, but also committed four of the team's 11 turnovers. Newbill's strong showing helped him surpass the 1,000-point mark for his PSU career. Ross Travis and Tim Frazier added 10 points apiece, while Brandon Taylor posted nine points and a career-best 10 boards. With three rebounds, Frazier passed the 500 career rebound mark to become the second Big Ten player in league history to reach 1,000 (1,492) points, 600 (621) assists and 500 rebounds (501). Newbill and Frazier are combining for 33.8 ppg this season.
Northwestern's backcourt duo of Drew Crawford and Tre Demps could not get enough shots to fall versus the Cornhuskers. Crawford went 4-of-13 from the floor for 11 points, while Demps made good on only 3-of-15 field goal attempts, including a 2-of-19 clip from 3-point range, for just 10 points. Starting center Alex Olah nearly propelled the Wildcats to the decision as he tallied a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds and four blocks. Crawford is leading the Big Ten in minutes played with 36.3 per game and averages team- highs of 15.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Northwestern's second-leading scorer, JerShon Cobb, has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury. Demps is netting 11.1 ppg on the campaign and has heated up to net 14 ppg over the span of his last five games.
Without Cobb available, Northwestern's offense just does not have enough firepower to match Big Ten level competition. The Wildcats play very tough defense on a consistent basis, but they will have trouble matching Newbill, Frazier and company unless Crawford puts the team on his back.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will attempt to halt their six-game
slide as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions at Welsh-Ryan Arena for a Big
Ten Conference bout.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: PSU 9-8, NU 8-8. Away Record: PSU 4-6, NU 4-7.
Neutral Record: PSU 1-1, NU 0-2. Conference Record: PSU 5-11, NU 5-11. Series
Record: Penn State leads, 27-15.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Penn State 65, Northwestern 61