Welcome to my second tempo-free preview. Although my last preview drew the awesomely wrong conclusion that we had a good chance to force OSU into a bad shooting game (whoops!), I think the argument was still sound.
So if you remain interested in the stats or if you're just looking for something to scoff at after the game's over, look no further. Here's what I see in the tempo-free statistical profile of the Nittany Lions:
1 They shoot almost as badly as we do.
It's a bit eerie, actually.
PSU Purdue 2P% 45.5 45.8 3P% 28.8 28.3 FT% 69.6 64.3
What to expect: Shots ricocheting off the side of the backboard until it's shattered completely by a particularly forceful Marcius jump shot, and each team packing the lane just daring the other to launch a three. If either side does happen to come out hot, that could be decisive.
2 They can board.
If Penn State has a strength, it's their rebounding. Considering the season as a whole, they're particularly good on the defensive glass, allowing their opponents to collect only 24.2% of possible offensive boards--good for #3 in D1. And since the beginning of Big Ten play, they've continued rebounding well on both ends of the floor.
In contrast, Purdue's rebounding, which was quite stout during the non-conference season, has been decent but not spectacular in our three conference games. This is especially true on the defensive glass, where we're allowing our opponents to grab 34% of their misses. That's quite bad, 11th in the conference.
What to expect: Since neither team is able to shoot, cheap putbacks will probably be important. This should be an area of some concern, as Penn State has actually performed slightly better on the boards in their conference games, while we've regressed slightly. (Take this with a small sample size grain of salt, of course.)
3 They put opponents on the line a lot.
During their first 3 conference games, PSU shot 30 free throws while their opponents shot 86. Granted, that included one Kohl Center special (seriously, check out the box score on that one). But even in their two home games, they were doubled up at the free throw line by their opponents. And before Big Ten season, the Nittany Lions were already foul happy. For the season as a whole, they're 337th in D1 at keeping opponents off the foul line.
What to expect: Hammons fouls out before the first media time out. Stephen Toyra ruins his shot at a trillion when he picks up a flagrant foul for directing his elbow toward a Nittany Lion in a menacing fashion.
More seriously, Rapheal Davis--this is your night. As our only guard who both likes to attack the basket and is able to hit a free throw, opportunities should be there. One would also hope that Hammons can build on his 5-5 performance at the line against OSU.
We are not very good, but Penn State is worse. After two passable performances at home in conference (both against ranked teams), we should pick up a win here. Even if we're shooting badly (which we as fans should probably just expect by now), points will be available on the boards and at the line. I think we get some of those points, hold a 6-12 point lead throughout much of the game, and break 70 for the first time in this Big Ten season.
Purdue 71, Penn State 59