Greetings Hoops Fans! This is Dave Horning for Fan Podcast with a preview of the next Ohio State Buckeyes game … an away game against the Penn State Nittany Lions coming up this Thursday, February 15th at 8:00pm Columbus time. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network and on radio at The Fan 97.1 FM.

Yes, this is the Penn State team that beat Ohio State in Columbus just 3 weeks ago, winning at the Schott on a last-second mid-court 3-point shot by Tony Carr – Number 10 – that gave Penn State a 82-79 victory instead of sending the game into overtime.

This will be an exciting game to watch because of the revenge factor, but also because Penn State has won 4 of its 5 games since beating Ohio State and now stands alone in 6th place in the Big Ten with a record of 8 wins against 6 losses, and an overall record of 18 wins against 9 losses. Penn State is on the bubble for an invitation to the NCAA tournament, and they face a tough remaining schedule – Ohio State at Home, at Purdue, Michigan at Home, and ending up on the road at Nebraska. They probably need to win at least two or three of those remaining games to seal an NCAA invitation – and they cannot afford to start this stretch run with a loss to Ohio State. Penn State is playing for an NCAA invitation.

Ohio State is fighting to retain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with its record of 13 wins and only one loss in the conference. Ohio State is one game ahead of Purdue and Michigan State.

On the Team Ranking website of all 351 Division 1 Men’s Basketball programs, Penn State is ranked Number 86 while the Buckeyes are ranked Number 17. In the AP Poll, Ohio State is ranked 8th and in the USA Today Coaches Poll, Ohio State is ranked 9th – ahead of Duke and North Carolina! Ohio State is fighting to prove that it deserves this lofty ranking.

The starting lineup for Penn State will be:
Number 24 – 6-9 Sophomore Forward Mike Watkins
Number 11 – 6-8 Sophomore Forward Lamar Stevens
Number 23 – 6-4 Junior Guard Josh Reaves – Penn State’s best defender who will probably be assigned to guard Keita Bates-Diop.
Number 10 – 6-5 Sophomore Guard Tony Carr – the player who made 4 of 5 3-point attempts against Ohio State 3 weeks ago – including the game winner from mid-court.
and finally, Number 33 – 6-2 Senior Guard Shep Garner – who was also 4 of 5 on his 3-point attempts against Ohio State in Columbus – he made the first two from long range – 10 feet ouside the 3-point arc – the Buckeyes just weren’t ready at the beginning of the game – will they be on Thursday night? Shep Garner must be more closely guarded – even when he is 30 feet from the basket. That’s Number 33 – Shep Garner.

Penn State is coached by Patrick Chambers in his 7th year. He has never taken Penn State to the NCAA tournament .. think he’s hungry?

My analysis of the Penn State victory over Ohio State 3 weeks ago in Columbus was that:
(1) Penn State shot light out – making 11 of 14 3-point attempts for 79%, and
(2) the refs were atrocious and heavily favoring Penn State.

I believe that the Buckeyes will clamp down on Shep Garner and Tony Carr, so I do not expect them to make 79% of their 3-point attempts – the law of averages are on my side. Over the course of the season, they are making 37.5%, not 79%.

But I am very concerned that the refs will not be any better – usually the home court crowd intimidates the refs and they swallow their whistle against the home team. Penn State is organizing a “white-out” – like they do for football games to pump up the crowd. They’ll probably also have that stupid and incessant lion growl. This presents a problem for the Buckeyes – since Kaleb Wesson is more dominant underneath than the Penn State front line, they will resort to “Hack a Shaq” and “basketbrawl” to try to slow Kaleb down. If they refs let them do that, it will be unfair to Kaleb.

Here is video of Penn State playing “basketbrawl” in an effort to defend Kaleb Wesson – this should be a flagrant foul 1:

I hope that Buckeye Coach Chris Holtmann will call out the refs if this starts to happen – a well timed technical foul can have the effect of hitting the reset button.

On a positive note, there is good news that Kam Williams is out of the doghouse with Coach Holtmann and will be available to play against Penn State – this could give the Buckeyes a lift, just like Josh Reaves did for Penn State when he returned for the Ohio State game after missing 4 games in January. Kam Williams returning to action is a positive note for the Buckeyes, even if he doesn’t start.

Ohio State’s Starting Lineup will probably be:
Number 34 – 6-9 Freshman Center Kaleb Wesson
Number 33 – 6-7 Junior Power Forward Keita Bates-Diop
Number 24 – 6-6 Sophomore Forward Andre Wesson
Number 3 – 6-1 Junior Shooting Guard or Point Guard CJ Jackson, and
Number 1 – 6-4 Senior Jae’Sean Tate, Point Guard or Small Forward

Ohio State is coached by Chris Holtmann, in his first year.

This will be a great and exciting game for the entire 40 minutes – don’t miss it!

Tip-off is 8:00pm on the Big Ten Network and on the radio at The Fan 97.1 FM.

This is Dave Horning for Fan Podcast. Go Bucks!