If you frequent this site and happen to have read my preview of Penn State, you may have noticed that the post was a bit schizophrenic. For several paragraphs I wrote glowingly (or as glowingly as possible for a Penn State basketball team), but when it came to actually predicting the outcomes of their Big Ten games, I predicted they would only go 4-14. So what gives?
I knew the Big Ten was down, and I knew Penn State was…up? But when it came to predicting the games, I just didn’t see where Penn State would be able to show their improvement. Illinois took care of that for me, and Penn State is on their way to over achieving. That’s right, I was wrong.
I still think Penn State’s 10-4 is a bit misleading, both because they haven’t really beaten anyone (sorry Illinois), but their losses, particularly those in the Old Spice Classic that at first glance are particularly disheartening, may have been more of product of second leading scorer and rebounder Jamelle Cornley’s injury than a sign that Penn State should disband their basketball program.
Minnesota comes into today’s game also looking to show that their 11-3 record is worth paying attention to. They haven’t beaten anyone worth mentioning, and two of their three losses were dreadful. However, just one weak ago, an overmatched Minnesota team went into East Lansing and almost pulled off what would have been one of the most impressive wins in Tubby Smith’s career, and Minnesota didn’t even play that well.
For those with the Big Ten network, or for people who don’t mind spending an afternoon in a bar, this should be a fun game. Dan Coleman for the Gophers finally had a break out game, and Geary Claxton is having another break out season. Al Nolen and Stanley Pringle will give each other fits. Blake Hoffarber and Danny Morrissey can both knock down a shot from anywhere on their half of the court. Its a shame that less than 8,000 people are expected to see the game in person. Neither Penn State or Minnesota did anything at all last year, and it is still very early in the Big Ten season, but it is possible that this game could decide whether Minnesota or Penn State will be dancing in March.
Prediction: 66-65 Minnesota