Penn State–Michigan Preview

The Big Ten season thus far has been pretty painful. From the statistical standpoint it wasn’t too suprising. Minnesota is a tough team to beat, let alone at home; and Wisconsin had beat Penn State 10 straight times going into last weeks game. In a convoluted sense being 0-2  isn’t a big deal, it was frankly expected, and if anything playing Minnesota to the end was a positive in an otherwise shaky start to the campaign.

Fear not, up next is Michigan, and after Michigan fans were practically crapping their pants with excitement this offseason the Wolverines have thrown up an ugly 7-6 fuzzball of a record. While the Lions own 8-6 record doesn’t feel like much to write home about, the Michigan faithful were talking Final Four and a possible National Championship run. So as you might imagine this has been a bit of a shock to the system.

This makes Thursday nights game pretty important for both teams. The Lions could get their first and much-needed Big Ten win, and the Wolverines are trying to figure out how to win on the road and what to expect out of themselves the rest of this season. Both teams look pretty similar on paper, averaging about 70 points a game. Michigan does have the marquee win against Ohio State, but an Ohio State team without Evan Turner isn’t nearly as good.

Winning is key, well, its pretty much the point of the game. What do you have to do to win? That part sometimes is a mystery, but I’ve got a good idea on this one:

Get me some links…fo free!

Manny Harris: He’s good, everybody knows that, but get him to drive to his left and he has issues. Get in his face and he gets flustered. Tell him he’s ugly and he’ll cry. That last part is speculation, but for the most part the first two parts are true.  Penn State had issues with Wisconsin’s guard play, and while Manny Harris isn’t going to be the terror Trevon Hughes was,he’ll give you problems if you don’t guard him correctly. Harris gets a lot of points from using his body and driving to the rim,  so if you can find ways to get him into foul trouble early it’ll be a big help.

The more you keep him from his 19 ppg average the more it’ll put more pressure on DeShawn Simms (who in his own right is just as much of a basketball player as Harris is.) The key to beating Michigan is chopping one of the arms of the offense off. Simms or Harris. Simms won’t do well without Harris and visa-versa. A strange analogy, but the best I’ve got now.

Basketball is basketball: Once the Big Ten season hit, the Lions have looked like they’re thinking too much. Stay loose, have fun, and trust each other. In the end it’ll go a long way. Tim Frazier is playing tight and the rest of the role players are being picky about when to step up. If they’re going to win any games in the Big Ten it is going to take more than happy thoughts, it is going to take some action. While I don’t expect the Lions to spank the Wolverines like they did last season, there isn’t any reason the Lions can’t beat them. Just play the games you’ve always played, don’t pay attention to the logo on the jersey.

Those are really the two keys. I’m going to stop saying defense because when is defense not important? I really doubt Ed goes “ok guys we’re not playing defense tonight, walk back to the defensive side if you want.” This is a huge game for the Lions, Michigan is looking confused and is plenty beatable. Go out and play the game, play smart but don’t think to hard.

Oh…and watch out for elbows…

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~ by blj1887 on January 6, 2010.

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