Game Preview: Men’s Basketball vs. Yale
Host Dale Ostrander and analysts Ben Geller and Jeremy Ganes recap Penn State's win over the Bucknell Bison and make their predictions for the upcoming Yale game:
The Penn State Nittany Lions are off to a scorching hot start to the season. The last time the Nittany Lions started the season 4-0 was in 2017-18 – the year they raised the NIT championship trophy.
On Saturday, the Nittany Lions will be taking on the defending Ivy League champion Yale Bulldogs in the second game of their NIT season tip-off.
All eyes are on Penn State, after their convincing win at Georgetown last week, following it up with what was one of the more impressive offensive performances in recent memory for the Nittany Lions in their 98-70 victory over Bucknell. The 98 points scored are a team season high. Lamar Stevens recorded 27 of those points, and Mike Watkins added 18 of his own - both individual season highs.
The Nittany Lions are indeed beginning to look like a basketball school. Yale is 3-2, and will be riding some momentum coming off of a 100-89 triple-overtime win versus Siena on Wednesday.
Keys to the game for Penn State
The Nittany Lions have shown this season that their depth and versatility is going to be extremely advantageous. Pat Chambers has done a fantastic job of examining matchups, managing lineups, and using each player’s skills and talents to their maximum potential.
So far this season, Penn State has moved the ball extremely well and has done a great job of getting the best shot possible each possession. The young guys and new additions for the Nittany Lions are starting to gain chemistry and in-game experience, too. The entire team is thriving and playing with exuding confidence.
Yale has two forces underneath in 6-foot-10 junior Paul Atkinson and 6-foot-9 senior Jordan Bruner. Guard Azar Swain can score and Jalen Gabbidon is a skillful perimeter defender.
Penn State, however, has more than enough firepower with Lamar Stevens, whose lived up to the preseason hype surrounding him so far. If Myles Dread keeps shooting the lights out, and Jamari Wheeler continues to be a nuisance on defense, it’s going to be a tough matchup for the Bulldogs.
Keys to the game for Yale
So far this season, Yale has been a solid unit defensively and it all starts down low with their big men.
Yale has two huge, veteran presences down low in Atkinson and Bruner. They both grab rebounds, can block shots and are athletic scoring threats. Penn State’s big man Mike Watkins has been a dominant force all season on both ends of the floor. If Yale wants to win, their bigs are going to have to shut down Watkins.
Yale should be able to hang in the paint with Penn State, so if the Nittany Lions aren’t hitting some shots from the outside, it could spell trouble.
Yale is good – but Penn State is better. The Bulldogs may stick around for a while, but the Nittany Lions' depth, versatility, and explosiveness will prove to be too much for the Bulldogs to handle.
Prediction: Penn State 85, Yale 70
Zach Donaldson is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.