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Minnesota vs Penn State: Preview, How To Watch, Streaming, Predictions

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Fresh off a second conference win, the Gophers travel to snowy Happy Valley to take on Penn State on Wednesday night.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Having braved the snow, the Men's basketball team is ready to play Penn State Wednesday tonight. The NIttany Lions are 1-6 in conference play and 13-7 on the season. Clearly this matchup will be followed by many outlets for its potential national championship implications.

Game Details

Opponent: Penn State Nittany Lions

Where: Bryce Jordan Arena

When: Wednesday, January 28th, 6pm CST

TV: BTN

Streaming: BTN2Go.com

Listen: 1500ESPN

Three Points

1. Contain D.J. Newbill

D.J. Newbill is a good basketball player. Black Shoe Diaries has a good post about his impressive #Numb3rs. As far as the Nittany Lions offense is concerned, Newbill is the first and second option. For the year, he has a Usage Rating of 30%, meaning that when he is on the floor he ends 30% of Penn State's possession. Despite a high usage rate, Newbill has a PER of 26.2 (average is 15), has a 52% eFG, and has played almost 200 minutes more than any other Nittany Lions. Penn State does not have any other good shooters or scorers. If the Gophers can shut down Newbill, they should win.

It's an open question who is going to draw Newbill when the Gophers play man, but for now I think it should be Dre Hollins. His performance against D'Angelo Russell (a better player than Newbill) showed his ability to be a lock down defender. That said, Penn State is not a good three point shooting team, so I imagine Pitino will default to the 2-3 zone whenever possible.

2. Get Mo Walker Involved

Minnesota is most dangerous when teams have to respect the post game, a good example being the recent Illinois game. When Mo Walker is given space in the low post, he is nigh unguardable. In most of Minnesota's wins this season, the formula has been to give Walker the ball and let him work. Penn State does not have a player who can match Walker's physicality, so the Gophers should be able to establish him early.

In the likely event that PSU doubles the post, the Gophers will have an open shooter because math is fun like that. It is incumbent on Walker to recognize the double early and kick out quickly. In games where he's struggled, Walker has tried to force shots through tough defense instead of making the easier pass.

3. Get Turnovers

Penn State does a reasonable good job of taking care of the ball, ranking in the top 30% nationally. The Gophers can play in the half court, but would much prefer to get easy points in transition. Besides, that top steal percentage isn't just for show. Penn State is a reasonably fast paced team, so it should be possible to speed them up to a tempo that Minnesota prefers.

Predictions

  • KenPom thinks this game is a toss up and based on the conference body of work I agree. Since I'm a homer, Minnesota wins 74-68.
  • Andre Hollins continues his excellent shooting performance, topping 20 points.
  • Bakary Konate makes a field goal and has less than 3 fouls.