As part of the 13th annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Boston College Eagles will host the Penn St. Nittany Lions on November 30th. This will mark the 12th time that the two schools have played one another and the first time since 2001. Overall, the Eagles lead the series 6-5.
Well now that we've got the basic facts about the matchup out of the way, let's see what this Penn State team is all about. The Nittany Lions are coming off of a 19-14 season and a rather questionable NCAA tournament appearance. Penn St. was pretty mediocre most of the season, but managed to reach the finals of the Big Ten Tournament and force their way into the Big Dance. Penn State took advantage of a much improved conference by gaining a tournament berth despite 14 (!) losses. Meanwhile, BC had only 12 losses and had to settle for the NIT. Needless to say, PSU's NCAA Tournament experience was short-lived as they lost their first game to Temple, 66-64.
Now, I'm not sure how much BC fans paid attention to Big Ten basketball last year, but I assure you that it was just as ugly as always. While the Eagles were jacking up countless three-pointers, PSU defeated Wisconsin, 36-33, in what was the most unwatchable game of the year. There will undoubtedly be a stark contrast of styles when the Nittany Lions visit Conte Forum and whichever team is able to dictate the pace of the game will likely prevail.
One thing that the two schools do have in common is the significant roster turnover from last year to this upcoming year. Penn St. lost their version of Reggie Jackson in Talor Battle. Battle led the squad with 20.2 points per game and was selected to the Big Ten all-conference first team. It will be difficult to replace Battle's nightly contribution, especially for a team that lost their second and third leading scorers as well. Penn St. hopes that Juwan Staten will fill that void. Staten was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and played his freshman year at Dayton before deciding to transfer to PSU. NCAA transfer rules will likely keep Staten on the bench for the 2011-12 season. Like BC, PSU will turn to a young, team effort to put points on the scoreboard. Junior guard, Tim Frazier, is the only returning starter for the Lions.
Neither school really knows what to expect from their young squad. Both programs have some decent recruits, but no overwhelming ones. What we do know is that Penn State will bring its dedication to defense to the Heights. It will be up to BC's inexperienced shooters and the offensive schemes of Steve Donahue to increase the pace and play a style of basketball that favors the Eagles. The match-up with Penn State gives BC another chance to gain some national exposure. The Eagles will look to remain undefeated in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and push their record to 6-0 all-time as the ACC will try to reestablish its dominance over the Big Ten.