Tomorrow afternoon Ohio State will have a chance to claim its second straight Big Ten Tournament Championship. If the Buckeyes are to achieve this goal, they will need to get past a surging Penn State team. Just as Michigan State used its tournament victory over Purdue to solidify its berth in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State in turn used Michigan State to solidify their own berth, if their prior win over Wisconsin wasn’t quite enough.
This Nittany Lion squad is certainly admirable for its effort these past few days, winning out over higher ranked opponents in what has truly been a last ditch effort to get into the Big Dance. The casual observer has to feel good for the Lions, who fought through a hard Big Ten season but had the look of a team that was going to come up just short yet again. In particular, anyone following Talor Battle’s career with Penn State has to feel good for the senior guard, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer in the Lions victory over Wisconsin.
There probably aren’t enough negative adjectives available to describe the PSU-Wisconsin “game,” but Ed DeChellis’ team bounced back in good form against Sparty, not only securing the win and a chance to play in the B1G Tourney final, but controlling much of the second half and finishing it off with a 13-point margin. Battle led the way with 25 points while playing the whole 40 minutes, and he got a lot of help from co-guard Tim Frazier, who finished with an outstanding stat line of 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Ohio State’s regular season games against the Lions included both a close call and a royal blowout that saw Jon Diebler have a record-breaking night. The latter game occurred less than two weeks ago, so there won’t be a lot that has changed for the two teams between then and now. The only real difference is determination, and Penn State has a lot more to gain from this match-up than Ohio State. In lieu of significant offensive and defensive adjustments, Thad will just need to adequately get the team mentally prepared to take Penn State’s best shot.
As we have been doing for each of these tournament games, here are a few points to consider in preparation for tomorrow’s contest:
Tomorrow’s game against the Lions will be at 3:30pm EST and will be aired on CBS. Be sure to stop by for the liveblog as we watch the finale of this great 2010-11 Big Ten season before heading into the NCAA’s!