Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Face Pitt In Long Awaited Showdown
A win would mean everything for the program.
To knock off one of the state's premier basketball programs on their home floor would not only validate the budding optimism but continue to grow and expand Penn State basketball's influence across the east coast.
There's a lot of history between Penn State and Pitt. The two schools have played 144 times dating back to 1906. That's than any other team the Nittany Lions have faced in the history of Penn State basketball. Penn State owns the lead in the series 74-70. Win No. 75 could be the biggest one yet.
Entering the game with a 6-2 record, Penn State has scored 79 or more points on seven different occasions this season thanks in large part to the guard tandem of senior Tim Frazier and junior guard and leading scorer DJ Newbill. The duo is among the four Nittany Lions averaging double-figures per game this season.
If Penn State is able to continue its scoring pace against a talented Pitt defense it could be an interesting night at the Petersen Events Center.
Penn State has the horses, or rather the lions, to give a talented Panther squad a run, but it won't be easy. Pitt enters the game undefeated through seven contests. Four Panther players average double-figures in scoring led by Lamar Patterson's 17 points per game. The Nittany Lions will also need to control Talib Zanna, the team's top rebounder, pulling down 6.8 boards per game to go with 12.7 points per contest.
There is little doubt that Penn State coach Patrick Chambers wants to win on Tuesday. It would be a major step forward for the program as it looks to continue its momentum. But even if the Nittany Lions fall, he knows his team is better off having played the game. And he doesn't want it to be a one-time deal.
"I look at our non conference as a whole and say that this is going to prepare us for the Big Ten," Chambers said on Monday. "However many wins or losses we have, it doesn't matter. This is going to get us ready for Big Ten play.
"This is something Coach Dixon and I have talked about since I took the job and how we could fit it in. We feel good that we can start a series very soon and I think that's great. I think it's great for the state, I think its great for the fans, I think it's great for the alumni base.
"I know you guys think I'm crazy, and maybe I am, but I want this game. I want to play in Petersen. I was at Villanova for five years and that is one of the hardest places to play. No matter what the outcome is, that's going to get us ready to play at Michigan State, at Purdue, at Indiana and all those places on the road."
Tuesday night's game is set to start at 7:30 on ESPNU. And if the Nittany Lions win, Chambers won't look crazy, he'll look like a coach ready to prove that his team is for real.