Preview: Penn State vs Illinois

posted March 9, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McClure

The Penn State Nittany Lions (13-17, 6-13) battle the Illinois Fighting Illini (11-19, 7-12) for the second time this season at the Bryce Jordan Center at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

In the first matchup between the two teams this season on Feb. 23, Penn State got up to an up to a 39-32 halftime lead and were able to hold on to win on the road, 83-76. The Nittany Lions were led by Lamar Stevens big performance with 25 points and eight rebounds. Although Illinois lost the first matchup, they also got a nice performance by Ayo Dosunmu with 18 points.

Since that game, the Nittany Lions have won two of their last three games with wins against Maryland and Rutgers. The one game Penn State lost in the middle of that was to Wisconsin on the road but were right in the game until the final buzzer.

In Penn State’s last game against Rutgers, it looked like it was going an easy win when they jumped out to a 37-19 lead at the half. However, Rutgers stormed back outscoring the Nittany Lions 46-29 in the second half. Rutgers had a chance to win it at the end, but the defense of the Nittany Lions came up huge and they were able to hold on 66-65.

On the other hand, the Fighting Illini have lost two of their last three games with losses to Purdue and Indiana. The only win game in the middle of those two games with a win vs.  Northwestern. Andres Feliz scored 26 points and converted on 16 of his 17 free throws.

Although these teams are at the bottom of the Big Ten standings, this game still has major implications of seeding when the Big Ten tournament comes around next week. At the moment there are three teams that have seven wins in the conference, and with the Nittany Lions sitting at six wins, this is an important game for them. Pat Chambers and his team have looked very strong as of late and have an opportunity here to get out of the bottom four teams in the conference.

Meanwhile, a win here for Illinois will definitely put them in a great position to get a bye on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament. A win would put them at eight wins in the conference and they would have some momentum going into the tournament.

Penn State has played well as of late and needs to have another big performance in this one to keep its momentum going. Penn State will get up early in this game and will hold on late to win this game at home.

Prediction: Penn State 76, Illinois 70

 

 

Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email mcm5964@psu.edu.