March 17, 2011

Penn St vs Temple: Survive & Advance, or Go Home

So after a roller coaster season with a buzzer beater against Mt. St. Mary's, a loss to Maine, two big wins over Wisconsin, and two tough losses to Michigan, Battle and the Lions are a #10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now the 1st round test comes against old foe Temple. But this time, rather than the usual 200-mile trip to one arena or the other, it's a 2500-mile ride to Tuscon. Well Ed DeChellis have his team ready to go? Let's take a look.

For those who know nothing about Temple:

This team is athletic. Temple has three athletic guards, all who averaged double digits this year. The starters, Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez, are both talented but Khalif Wyatt is a dangerous weapon off the bench. Wyatt was named A-10 Sixth Man of the Year and can put the dagger in Penn State if they begin to fall behind.

Lavoy Allen is their main post player but there is not much depth behind him. The biggest news for Temple is junior forward Scootie Randall is expected start after missing 7 games so fans will have to wait and see the sort of impact he can make.
The athletic Owls can score but that is no reason to count Penn State out.

Every fan knows what Talor Battle can do, and every NCAA fan has seen how talented guards can carry a team in the tournament e.g. Stephen Curry for Davidson.
Battle will have his hands full on offense and defense. Look for Frazier to get into the paint as much as he can. When Frazier penetrates, the perimeter will open up for Battle and Brooks.

DJ and Drew Jones had sub par performances in the Big Ten Tournament, but one of them will have to step up against Temple. I never expect much from the bench but if Frazier gets in foul trouble then Jermaine Marshall will have to play some strong defense.

I would like to think that the seniors know how big this really is and they all play their hearts out. If the Lions' Big Ten defense can slow down Temple's pace, I like Penn State's odds. If Temple speeds things up and Battle starts taking desperate 3s, then it will be a long plane ride back from Arizona for the Nittany Lions.

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