Penn State vs. Temple NIT Preview
Joe Skinner, Aiden Bitterman, and Dylan Huberman break down Penn State's opening round NIT matchup against Temple:
After being left out of the NCAA Tournament field of 68, the Penn State Nittany Lion Men’s Basketball team takes on the Temple Owls at the Bryce-Jordan Center in the first round of the NIT.
After losing a couple of games down the stretch that could have put the Nittany Lions in serious tournament contention, Pat Chambers is going to have an interesting task in getting his team up to play in the consolation tournament.
The Nittany Lions finished the season with a record of 21-13, three Quadrant 1 wins, and one of the top teams in Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out” section of the bubble. The Nittany Lions defeated NCAA Tournament No. 5 seed Ohio State, but those were their only Quadrant 1 wins. To make matters worse, they virtually canceled those wins out with three losses against teams in the bottom two quadrants. Had the Nittany Lions managed to finish one of the close Purdue games with a win, or beat Michigan, or even Nebraska, they may have finished in a very different spot. The home loss to Rider surely did not help either.
If the Nittany Lions were to wind up with an opponent that could create an intriguing NIT clash, it would be the Temple Owls. The Owls come into the NIT with a 17-15 record, after finishing No. 7 in the American Athletic Conference.
Temple University is located in Philadelphia, a Penn State pipeline city. The Nittany Lions roster has a host of players from the area, most notably Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins, and Shep Garner, all in the normal starting lineup.
Beyond the connections, the Penn State roster has to Temple’s city, a large portion of the student body hail from there as well. Penn State’s Philly students likely have a friend or two who attend Temple which could make this game personal for a lot of people.
On the court, the most entertaining individual matchup will likely be Temple Forward Obi Enechionyia against Lamar Stevens. Enechionyia stands a bit taller than Lamar Stevens, but the two are very similar players. Both have a good mid-range game, with a good deal of versatility. Both have great physical strength but expect Lamar Stevens to try to bring Enechionyia outside to guard him. Stevens has a bit of an athletic advantage and is all around a better player than Enechionyia, so expect him to come out and try to dominate this matchup. The winner of this individual matchup plays a big hand in deciding the outcome of the game.
Another interesting matchup to keep an eye on is the potential matchup between Tony Carr and Shizz Alston Jr. The two will likely wind up on each other defensively and may be familiar with each other as both come from Philadelphia and are only a year apart. Alston is a quick guard with some good athletic ability, similar to Tony Carr, though Carr tends to be more methodical in his approach. If Alston can hold his own against Carr it will be a big boost to Temple’s chances of coming out of Happy Valley victorious.
There are no obvious mismatches either way, but this wouldn’t be true if Mike Watkins were on the floor. He would be able to dominate center Ernest Aflakpui, but isn’t available to do so. While a tough break for the Nittany Lions, it should make for a tighter game.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.