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Purdue Basketball: Penn State Preview

After an early January win at The Palestra, Purdue hosts Penn State looking for a regular season sweep.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Penn State Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

#1 Purdue (21-1, Big 10 10-1) vs. Penn State (14-7, Big 10 5-5)

February 1, 2023, 6:30 EST

Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana



Penn State Starting Lineup

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
C 5 Kebba Njie Fr 6'10" 237 Centerville, OH
F 2 Myles Dread Sr 6'4" 235 Detroit, MI
F 10 Andrew Funk Sr 6'5" 200 Warrington, PA Bucknell
G 11 Camren Wynter Sr 6'2" 200 Hempsted, NY Drexel
G 22 Jalen Pickett Sr 6'4" 209 Rochester, NY Siena

Penn State Bench

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
F/C 24 Michael Henn Sr 6'8" 244 Bellevue, WA Denver
F 1 Seth Lundy Sr 6'6" 220 Paulsboro, NJ
F 12 Evan Mahaffey Fr 6'6" 200 Cincinnati, OH

Note: Lundy and Dread are now sharing 39% and 38% of floor time at power forward (respectively), so who actually starts is a coin flip.

Penn State On Offense

This is an undersized team that lives and dies by creating open shots. This has not changed since the two teams met at The Palestra, where Purdue took advantage of that in the paint. Zach Edey put up 30 and 13 while drawing enough attention to allow Braden Smith to socre 15 and tally seven assists. They typically set up with all five outside the arc with not much cutting into the paint, and that’s going to be difficult against a team with the Boilermakers’ size. It proved to be last time.

They still don’t offensively rebound well (ranked a very lowly 362nd in the country), and that just adds another huge obstacle for a team who somehow did not struggle with Purdue’s size on January 8th, matching Purdue’s offensive rebounds at 10. That said, they had five of their shots blocked.

They are a great shooting team, though, both from the field and from the foul line. Penn State now has the 14th-ranked effective field goal percentage (up from 16th) at 55.6% and hits 75.7% percent of their free throws (down from 77%), good enough for 35th in the nation. A major strength for Purdue defensively all year has been that the Bolermakers don’t foul a lot and they close out offensive players with their awareness when it comes to perimeter defense.

Penn State is still ranked first in college hoops in terms of avoiding turnovers. Their turnover percentage combined with how well they shoot will be key in standing a chance on the road in an environment as tough as Mackey Arena. The Nittany Lions did have nine turnovers in their last meeting with the Boilers, five of which being stolen balls.

Penn State on Defense

The presence in the paint simply doesn’t exist. They close out shots well and honestly, don’t give up too many shots that need to be closed out. With their small lineup, however, they give up space to bigs, resulting in both points for centers and double teams that allow centers to kick out the ball to an open shooter. That’s always nice for Purdue.

Any time they’ve faced true seven footers like Zach Edey, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, or even a 6’11” center like Clifford Omoruyi of Rutgers, the center tends to get exactly what he wants in the painted area. They’re not going to stifle Edey, but if they can somehow keep him under 20 points, the Nittany Lions stand a chance. The thing is, in such a scenario, I see The Big Maple scoring under 20 by being relentlessly double teamed and racking up assists to guys like Loyer, Morton, Gillis, Jenkins, and Smith. Basically, Penn State is the antithesis of a team built to last against teams with NBA-sized centers, and certainly not against against one with the passing skills, athleticism, and spatial awareness of Zach Edey...who manages to stay out of foul trouble.

They’re excellent at communicating switching defenders with off-the-ball movement, something which Purdue heavily relies upon as well. Still, they just stand no chance down low when guarding a dominant center. Even more so than most teams Purdue has played/will play, they have to gamble on the double team, which is something we’re going to say almost every week when even a dude who’s seven feet tall is comparably undersized while facing Zach Edey.

What may be their downfall is that they’re ranked 351st nationally in creating turnovers, so the Nittany Lions better pray for a sure-handed Purdue team to play their sloppiest basketball of the season.

X-Factor - Turnovers

Just like last time, if Purdue can protect the ball, the Boilers should have no issue cruising to a win. If Penn State uncharacteristically turns the ball over at a high rate, the Nittany Lions hardly stand a chance. I doubt Penn State goes down low a lot when setting up in a non-transitional offense, but if they do, keep an eye out for Edey using his wingspan to poke the ball away; he’s gotten increasingly better at that through the course of the season as seen in the win over Michigan State.



Purdue - 73

Penn State - 63

82% confidence


Purdue - 80

Penn State - 67

Look, Penn State is pretty good at their brand of small ball, but I don’t see them being shifty enough on offense to overpower a Purdue roster loaded with guys who play tight, clean defense and who are all bigger at their positions and just as mobile. It also helps the Purdue has Zach Edey and they don’t.