Penn State (10-20) vs. (6) Michigan (25-6)
Thursday, March 14, 2:25 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: United Center (20,917) -- Chicago, Illinois.
Television: BTN. Home Record: PSU 8-9, Michigan 17-1. Away Record: PSU 1-9,
Michigan 5-5. Neutral Record: PSU 1-2, Michigan 3-0. Conference Record: PSU
2-16, Michigan 12-6. Series Record: Michigan Leads, 28-12.
GAME NOTES: Despite being ranked sixth in the nation at the moment, the
Michigan Wolverines still find themselves playing in the first round of the
16th annual Big Ten Conference Tournament as they battle the Penn State
Nittany Lions at the United Center on Thursday afternoon.
The fifth-seeded Wolverines began the season with a 16-game win streak, but
the team was tripped up a few times by conference foes, the last setback
coming against second-ranked Indiana in the regular-season finale this past
As for the 12th-seeded Nittany Lions, they were at the other end of the
spectrum in terms of conference success, opening the league slate with 14
consecutive defeats. At one point PSU was one of only two teams in the nation
(Grambling) that had not won a conference outing. Penn State did manage to
finally break through against this same Michigan squad, and then two games
later delivered a 66-59 win against Northwestern on the road.
Michigan's history in this tournament is a bit cloudy, with the team's 1998
championship versus Purdue having been scrubbed from the record books due to
NCAA rules violations. Officially, the Wolverines have a record of 8-13 in the
event, compared to PSU which is slightly ahead with nine wins in 24
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Nittany Lions show Michigan as
having a 28-12 advantage, although PSU stunned the Wolverines back in late
February by a score of 84-78 at home when the visitors were the fourth-ranked
team in the country.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action on Friday afternoon versus
fourth-seeded Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.
The season was sent spiraling out of control for the Nittany Lions when just
four games in the team lost Tim Frazier to a season-ending injury. Without
their top scorer the Lions fumbled their way to a total of just 10 wins on the
campaign and a mere two in conference. In those league outings, D.J. Newbill
(16.4 ppg) and Jermaine Marshall (16.2 ppg) have been trying to give the group
a fighting chance, but scoring a collective 58.8 ppg rarely gets it done.
Newbill was responsible for 4.2 rpg and was also first with 75 assists, but
those efforts still did not compensate for his 28.9 percent shooting from the
floor. Hitting an average of two triples per game, Marshall is slightly more
reliable out on the perimeter, but still PSU hit on just 29.9 percent from
beyond the arc in league action.
The Wolverines get their drive from Trey Burke, the Big Ten Player of the Year
and a unanimous choice for the All-Big Ten First Team after he led the way in
scoring with 20.2 ppg in league action. A 40.4 percent shooter beyond the arc
in those 18 outings, Burke was also far-and-away one of the top passers in not
just the conference but the country as well, averaging better than six dishes
in league play and turning the ball over a mere 36 times. Tim Hardaway, Jr.
(14.1 ppg) was always a clutch contributor on the outside with his 40 percent
shooting beyond the arc, while Glenn Robinson III (10.1 ppg) was much more of
an interior presence with his 5.1 rpg, which was tied for the team lead with
Mitch McGary (6.2 ppg) who did his damage almost exclusively off the bench.
Clearly the Nittany Lions showed just a short time ago that they can beat a
top-tier opponent, but that win for PSU might be all the motivation the
Wolverines need in taking control of this meeting early and cruising to
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 79, Penn State 58
03/14 10:37:03 ET
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