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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions and No.6 Wolverines Set for Rubber Match

by on March 14, 2013 6:33 AM

Win or go home, that's what faces the Penn State men's basketball team in the first round of the Big Ten tournament against No. 6 Michigan Thursday. The game will tip-off around 2:30 on the Big Ten Network.

Luckily for the Penn State, the Wolverines haven't quite been able to solve the Pat Chambers' squad, getting upset by an unflappable Nittany Lions team just over two weeks ago. The first meeting of the season came only 10 days prior to the upset, and Michigan never led by double figures in the eight point victory.

“Just watching Penn State, it’s a whole different team than it was earlier in the season,” Michgan coach John Beilein said. “I think six of their last seven games they have shown they can beat anyone. They can beat us, or anyone in the tournament right now the way that they're playing."

With a 10-20 season record, fans might expect Penn State to fold and let the season end, but having played some of their best basketball of the season over the past several games, the Nittany Lions aren't ready to quit just yet.

"I know you guys think I'm crazy, but I'm not ready for this season to end yet," coach Patrick Chambers said. "We're 0-0 in my mind. We have a lot to play for and a lot to fight for."

For Penn State it'll take another strong effort from the likes of DJ Newbill, Jermaine Marshall, and a rotating third scorer for the Nittany Lions to pull off another improbable upset. That'll mean sticking to what has worked over the past few games.

“We're pretty comfortable with what we're doing right now, so sometimes when you get into tournament play, you don't want to throw too many things at them,” Chambers said. “You want to put something out there that we've created the habits of working on the past couple of months, so we're gonna stick to what we're doing.”

Penn State has surpassed 1 point per possession in just six Big Ten games but five of those six occasions have come in the Nittany Lions’ last seven outings. The Nittany Lions have shot the ball considerably better over that stretch minus a road blowout loss to Minnesota three games ago.

Penn State will need to improve on defense the third time around against the Wolverines, who scored 149 points in 135 possessions against Penn State in two games, a solid 1.10 points per trip.

The Nittany Lions are 2-0 against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament but has never won while being seeded lower than No. 9 in the bracket. Penn State most recently made the tournament final in 2011 behind a Talor Battle led squad that eventually made the NCAA tournament in large part to the team's success in Indianapolis that weekend.

The 2013 tournament taking place at the United Center in Chicago Illinois. The Nittany Lions are 4-7 at the United Center.

"You just have to go out there and play fearless," Newbill said. "Just go out there and play Penn State basketball."

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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