Preview: Texas takes on Penn State in the Round of 16


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The second round of the tournament begins today, as there are now 31 teams left in the field (Furman lost to SDSU earlier today). Texas faces a pretty hot team from Penn State who are playing well right now after blasting Texas A&M, 76-59, in the first round.

Of course, that was after the Aggies complained for a week straight about how “screwed” they had been with seeding. Maybe they did, but they did themselves a disservice by blowing themselves up after making a huge stink about how “disrespectful” they are.

Want a better seed? Play a better competition. Simple enough, guys. It’s not like football where it’s in your best interest to play some non-con shit program so you can make the playoffs. It benefits you to play better college basketball teams because ranking is so important. Buzz Williams just copied Jimbo Fisher’s model of squashing bad teams to artificially inflate their win tally.

Texas also faced some really bad teams, but they also faced Gonzaga, Creighton and Illinois at MSG. Then they finished second in a dominating conference. That’s how you get a 2 seed. Also, maybe win the SEC championship instead of losing by 20, A&M. Just a thought. They ended their season with consecutive 20-point losses.

Either way, the Nittany Lions offense rode like Limp Bizkit in 1999 (shout out Fred Durst). They got hot at the right time, winning nine of their last 11 games and qualifying for the NCAA.

It won’t be easy for the Longhorns, because Penn State is pretty scary offensively.

Penn State Highlights.

Here’s some background on the Penn State offense, which I wrote about earlier this week:

Penn State, like Colgate, shoots the three very well, sixth in the nation at 39%. They are also fifth in the nation in three-point shots per game (10.5) and 13th in three-point attempts at 27.1/game.

Penn State’s biggest offensive problem is that they’re nearly last out of 366 teams in free throw attempts and marks per game. They don’t attack the basket a ton, 319th in the nation in two-point attempts per game at 30.1. Because of this, they also don’t rebound particularly well, as they’re 362nd in offensive rebounds per game.

They just kill you deep, basically, but since they live by the threes, they also die by the threes. Like the Colgate game, Texas will have to rely on their perimeter defense to quell the onslaught of bombs from the Nittany Lions guards.

Texas needs to focus its energy on defending the perimeter rather than packing the paint. They’re going to have to fight for the screens because they’ll get killed if they play cover against the Nittany Lions guards. Check out the stats below to see just how lethal this team is in depth.

Andrew Funk is probably their best marksman, hitting a chilling 42.0% on 7.3 attempts/game. He absolutely rained hell on Texas A&M in the Round of 16, hitting eight threes on 10 attempts and scoring 27 points. He had a match similar to Sir Jabari Rice against Colgate; he couldn’t miss anything. No doubt it will be a problem. Watch her lineup in the clip below.

Seth Lundy is also an excellent shooter from deep, averaging 40.2% on 6.4 attempts per game. He only had 10 against the Aggies and was pretty ineffective, but most of the team relied on Funk anyway because of his hot shooting hand. He’ll be a problem if the Longhorns leave him or any of those guys wide open.

Last but not least, Penn State also has a second-team All-American on guard. Jalen Pickett.

Pickett (17.9 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 6.7 Ast) is Penn State’s alpha, their leader in points, assists and rebounds. The guy was selected as one of the top 10 players in the country this season, so trying to corner him the whole game might not work as well.

The problem is that you can’t overtake Pickett because of all the shooting options he has around him, so it will take a valiant effort to contain him. I think Rodney Terry will probably try to face Pickett, which is also a risky move, but less than doubling up.

Either way, Texas expects a tough game when they’re on their side. Stopping Penn State is no easy task, and it’s going to take a colossal effort on the defensive end.

Weaknesses of Penn State.

Where teams have beaten Penn State is on the boards and in foul shooting. The Nittany Lions rank 294th in rebounds per game (32.6) and 362nd of 363 teams in free throw attempts per game with just 12.4.

They are 359th in free throws at 9.0/game. They are also 358th in steals (4.4) and 328th in blocks (2.2). Additionally, they are 292nd in personal fouls per game at 15.6. They’ve dropped 13 games this year, including losses to Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Wisconsin and Rutgers.

Are they hot right now? Yes, but on the one hand, Texas is also hot. Penn State is by no means unbeatable, and they’re not even close to the best teams Texas has beaten this year including Kansas (twice), Kansas State on the Road, TCU (twice), Gonzaga, Creighton and Baylor. Since many of those games were at home, they were still able to win what was essentially a road game in the Big XII Championship, and did so by 20.

But it’s March, so throw some out the window.

If you’re a Texas fan, you’re probably a little nervous about the Nittany Lions’ three-point snipers, but overall you should feel good about the game. Penn State has plenty of exploitable weaknesses.

If I’m Rodney Terry I go back to what I did at the start of games and just feed Dylan Disu, get points in the paint early and possibly get help from defenders in the lane , abandoning their assignments. It gives guys like SirJabari Rice, Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter the chance to shoot three and try to beat Penn State at their own game (just like they did Colgate).


While I think Texas is a better team, I don’t think they’re going to blow up the Nittany Lions (although I think the Longhorns win). The Nittany Lions are too talented offensively to be beaten in such an important game. Jalen Pickett just won’t allow them to lose big, I don’t think, and they just have too many shooters and can space the ground in their five-out offense.

Texas will win this game indoors with Dylan Disu, Christian Bishop, Brock Cunningham and Dillon Mitchell. They have to hammer the paint and defend the perimeter. If they can do BOTH things, I like their chances of getting to their first Sweet 16 since 2008.

Result: Texas 70, Penn State 65

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