What to Expect: Penn State

  • 01/12/2015 11:02 am in

After a hard-fought 69-66 win over No. 22 Ohio State on Saturday, Indiana is back in Assembly Hall on Tuesday night for a meeting with Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 12-4 overall, but 0-3 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 7 p.m. ET with Dave Revsine and Jimmy Jackson on the call:

Both KenPom.com and Vegas projected Indiana to start conference play 0-3, but three games in, the Hoosiers sit at 2-1 with a road win at Nebraska and Saturday’s win over the Buckeyes already on the ledger. But as we saw on Sunday night when Rutgers beat Wisconsin, the Big Ten is going to produce its share of upsets as the season rolls along.

Indiana will play its first league game as a favorite this season on Tuesday against Penn State, which came into Bloomington last February and dealt the Hoosiers a head-scratching defeat. The Nittany Lions are 0-3 with just one win over a top 100 team in the Pomeroy ratings, but if there’s one thing you can be sure of with a team coached by Pat Chambers it’s this: competitiveness will not be an issue.

With three of its next four games after Tuesday coming on the road, a 3-1 start would give Indiana a little bit of breathing room on a schedule that, at least on paper, is easier on the backend.


Penn State has just one player averaging in double figures in scoring and just one player averaging more than 30 minutes per game: senior guard D.J. Newbill. The 6-foot-4 combo guard is a stat stuffer: He leads Penn State in points, assists and steals. Newbill comes to Bloomington averaging 21.3 points per night and he’s making 74 percent of his free throws, 51 percent of his 2s and 38 percent of his 3s. Newbill can also get to the foul line as evidenced by his strong free throw rate (he’s attempting 46 free throws per 100 field goal attempts). Here’s a look at where Newbill is most effective, per Shot Analytics:


Newbill is clearly most dangerous in the middle of the floor. He’s hitting 50 percent on top of the key 3s and is also very efficient on left wing jumpers at 65 percent. For a player using 29 percent of available possessions and 92 percent of available minutes, his offensive rating of 113.5 is very good.

The job of the rest of the Penn State guard rotation is to act as complementary pieces to Newbill unlike past seasons when Tim Frazier and Jermaine Marshall were still around. Freshman point guard Shep Garner has started all 16 games and is the team’s third leading scorer at 9.4 points per contest. The 6-foot-1 Garner is clearly a big part of Penn State’s plans moving forward and he’s played well so far by hitting 55 percent of his 2s and 37 percent of his 3s.

Guards Geno Thorpe and John Johnson are also rotation pieces, but are a notch below Newbill and Garner when it comes to efficiency. Thorpe does a great job of getting to the foul line (73.3 percent free throw rate), but turns it over too much (21.4 turnover percentage) and is a poor 3-point shooter at just 24 percent. Johnson is coming off a very good game against Michigan where he scored 16 points and hit four of his eight 3-point attempts in 27 minutes. (Update: Johnson has been suspended by Penn State.)

Junior Brandon Taylor occupies the wing forward spot in the Penn State lineup and is a high volume 3-point shooter with limited success. Taylor has hoisted a team-high 88 attempts from distance and is connecting at just a 28.4 percent clip. He is strong, however, from the left corner, where he’s knocking down 50 percent.

Senior Ross Travis is the team’s best rebounder on both ends (10.9 OR% and 19.2 DR%), but has some head-scratching numbers otherwise. The 6-foot-7 Travis is making just 18.2 percent of his free throws, 48.3 percent of his 2s and 21.4 percent of his 3s.

Juniors Donovan Jack and Jordan Dickerson round out the rotation with both guys averaging right around 16 minutes per night. Dickerson, who is 7-foot-1, is making just 47 percent of his 2s and is foul prone (7.8 fouls called per 40 minutes). Jack is the team’s most efficient player on 2s (58 percent).


We’re not quite to the point of the conference season where league only stats should be heavily replied upon as Indiana’s numbers, despite being 2-1, are heavily skewed from one lopsided loss. Thus, the following numbers are full season, with national rankings in parenthesis:


Indiana’s primary advantages on paper seem to be on the free throw line and the offensive glass. Penn State’s opponent free throw rate is near 41 percent and Indiana’s is just 27 percent, so exploiting that discrepancy and looking to drive with the purpose of getting fouled should be a focus for the Hoosiers.

Penn State is the better defensive rebounding team, but doesn’t go to the offensive boards hard like Indiana. The Hoosiers are coming off a game where they rebounded 43.2 percent of their misses and a focus on crashing the boards hard could pay off tremendously.

The Nittany Lions were a solid, but not spectacular defensive team in non-conference play, but given that Michigan just torched them for 1.16 points per trip, the defense will certainly need to be better to keep up with Indiana.


The Pomeroy projection is for a 9-point Indiana win with an 80 percent chance for victory. Sagarin’s model is even more bullish on the Hoosiers with a 10-point margin separating the two teams.

But given that Indiana lost at home to Penn State last season, nothing is for certain, particularly in a Big Ten season where Rutgers just beat Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions will be a desperate team looking to avoid an 0-4 start in league play, which is a hole that no team wants to try and dig out of given the glut of teams fighting in the middle of the pack.

After a third win over a top 25 team on Saturday and with the students back in the Assembly Hall seats, it should be a great environment for Indiana to have success and a solid chance to march on to a third Big Ten win.

(Photo credit: Rich Barnes/Getty Images North America)

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  • Kyl470

    I don’t think they will overlook Penn St. after last years game. I expect a victory and for the team to get off to a 3-1 start in Big 10 play. Hopefully JBJ, RJ, and NZ can regain their shooting form and start knocking down 3’s at a high rate again.

  • Gregory Spera

    Despite the better than expected start to the B1G season, my trust in this team is still shaky enough for me to be worried about beating Penn State tomorrow. I know I tend to expect the worst, but I just can’t help it. Need to take care of business, because the next four games after this are brutal.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I want to see us start knocking down threes again. Love the new found board crashing Hoosiers too. I think their defense is terrible and we will score more than 80 points in this game. Indiana – 87 / Penn State – 73.

  • inLinE6

    Me too. I’m worried about every game after a big win.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I saw this interesting (at least, to me it was interesting and surprising) note from Rick Bozich…IU has three wins over ranked teams this season, the rest of the league has four wins over ranked teams…combined. That probably doesn’t really mean too much come March but for now, it’s a nice stat to have in our favor.

    I was in Assembly Hall for the total collapse we had last year against Penn State. For me, it was the basement/low point in a season full of frustrations. I really, really hope we come out focused, rebound and defend with intensity and purpose, move the ball and start knocking down open looks at a high-level. I was pleased with how IU responded to the MSU loss. So, we know they respond well to an ugly loss, I hope they respond equally well to success.

  • IU22

    Trap Game?

  • Gregory Spera

    As I said at the time, since he gets a pass for his first three seasons, the Penn State debacle at Assembly Hall last year was, to me, the “basement/low point” of Crean’s entire tenure at Indiana. Well, so far.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Hard to argue…the Syracuse game hurt more but the meltdown in the final 2-3 minutes of the Penn State game still scars me in every close game we have. Anyway, a win over Penn State tomorrow night and 3-1 start in B1G play (when most, including myself, would gladly have taken 2-2) would help me forget (ever so slightly) about sitting in the Hall watching us throw up all over ourselves followed by the Nittany flippin’ Lions celebrating on our home floor. The drive home was…not fun. Anyway, here’s to IU correcting mistakes made in the past.

  • CreamandCrimson

    DJ Newbill is a very good player and Penn State really could have done without the transfer of Jermaine Marshall because Newbill is, too often, turned into a lone wolf (much like Battle and Frazier before him). How do we think IU chooses to defend Newbill? I thought Yogi did a nice job on Russell but perhaps his offensive game suffered from expending so much energy and focus on defense. I expect IU to score well enough against PSU so I guess I would take a low-scoring game from Yogi if it meant he held Newbill below his average. How would you guys like to see us defend Newbill and the Lions?

  • ForeverIU

    I haven’t seen Penn State playing, but I’m going on box scores going back the last 3 or 4 games, so this is just quick impressions. Most of Newbill’s scoring is not from 3-pt range, and he is their most popular player at the foul line. So I’m guessing he drives a lot and draws fouls. Is Yogi the best option to defend him in this case, or is Yogi better on perimeter shooters? I don’t know. Yogi seemed to handle Russel pretty well at 6-5, and Newbill is 6-4. Maybe this will be Stan’s shining moment on D, and he takes care of Newbill?

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Agreed, although I think this year’s team will play better at home than last year’s (Eastern Washington notwithstanding).

  • David Macer

    We should always be leery of our opponents. On any given day, the lesser team can win. Just ask Wisconsin….

  • David Macer

    EWU won that game more than IU lost it. IMHO.

  • oldiugymnast

    EWU is a much better team than they get credit for. They played out of their shoes a little and we missed open shots late. I know that this and the MSU beat down are supposed to harbingers of the end of the world or whatever, but I think that this is just yet another indication of how, after Duke and Kentucky (and we all know they don’t exactly follow the letter of the law when it comes to recruiting), there is pretty much parity across the D1 with some obvious outliers – but not way out there outliers. The world in NCAA basketball is a lot different than it was in 1981 or 1987 or even 2001. No game is guaranteed once the BIG starts.

  • FinEndNow

    DJ Newbill can get buckets. Gonna have to try and contain as best as possible. Maybe we should just try the thing of letting him score 40 but the rest of the team score 10 and we try to score 51 as a team.

  • Tcuomo

    I think doubling teaming Newbill would be a more productive strategy. PSU shot a ridiculous 60% in the first half against Wisco and has gone cold since then (look at their numbers against Rutgers of all teams). Force the rest of the team to beat us. They don’t have enough fire power. Get the ball down low to Holt and HMP. Get them touches against a 7 footer and build some confidence for future tests coming against Purdue and Wisco. Also, IU has to dictate the tempo. PSU will most likely try to bring this game to a grinding halt and we all know that never bodes well for the Hoosiers.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    EWU played hard, for sure, but IU let one player get 8 offensive boards… I’m not sure how thin the line is between “they won” and “we lost,” but IU shouldn’t give up those kinds of numbers to any opponent. IU has become a better rebounding team of late, but if IU had rebounded like they should have, IU would’ve won.

  • FinEndNow

    I just think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just make Newbill shoot 3’s all day. Guard everyone else, box out and let him shoot(with a hand in his face of course). He can’t outscore a whole team right?

  • oldiugymnast

    I agree. They definitely should have boxed out better.

  • FinEndNow

    If we’re going to stop Newbill then it just needs to be face guarding at all times.

  • ATG08

    …or Duke, or Arizona, or (almost) Kentucky. The non-conference may provide some “gimme” games for teams around the country. But conference games have become a different story in the last several years. You just can’t circle a win like you used to in the “old days.”

    My hope is that Yogi and Troy tell the new guys how absolutely embarrassing it was to give away that game in AH last year. I am also cautiously optimistic…but nervous.

  • oldiugymnast

    We could also just deny him the ball once he gives it up.

  • Tcuomo

    No, but much like Russell at OSU, I think PSU goes as Newbill does. If he’s locked down, PSU probably loses confidence and stalls out. I would rather have Brandon Taylor jacking up 3’s. I seriously doubt he can recreate the magic from last year in those final 2 minutes at Assembly Hall.

  • SCHoosier

    Your instincts are good..the way IU struggles on defense…no game is on my “don’t worry about it ” list. If the Hoosiers take care of business…IU should win..but things can go downhill very quickly on the road.

  • And One

    I strongly agree. I found that game especially traumatic, as I had come down with the flu and spent the game cocooned in blankets, yelling feebly and leaving moist fist-prints on my living room floor. I was convinced I was dying. The final minutes of that game, I felt my life ebbing away…
    This must not happen again. I’m taking extra vitamin C, and the Hoosiers will win by double digits.

  • Gregory Spera

    Or even at home, as we are, tomorrow night.

  • Mr. Mitchell

    I like our fight this season. Guys are showing up unexpectedly and Coach. Yeah coach a guy I watch and listen too often is proven me wrong so far. Yogi is an amazing little fella I like the guy fight on defense and offense. I seem to know every time he spots up in transition and some of those I hope he do it before he does. Love it. My pride guy is Colin. Quiet assassin award goes to RJ. Heart goes to Troy small guy does a lot of unconventional things that benefits the team.
    6 seed out west with a 2 Gonzaga Utah 3 tex/Oklahoma kind of bracket would be featherly

  • Bballpop

    Agree with your comment. But more importantly, I love your pic. Is that a home-brew by chance?

  • Outoftheloop

    If Indiana wants to beat PN St then we will need stout defense, aggressive rebounding, and few turnovers! Go IU! This is a win that should happen.

  • Outoftheloop

    Against EWU you really only have to concentrate on defending 2 guys. A little coaching adjustment was required and never made. I believe the quote was “they (IU) never tried anything on defense”.

  • unclekerfuffle

    If it is HB, then we have something else in common besides our love of the Hoosiers

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    That is interesting regarding 3 wins vs. 4 for the whole league. I am hopeful IU will come out and build upon their success against Ohio State and post a 20 point win against an inferior opponent, inferior at least talent wise. History suggests that IU will suffer a let down and it will be nail biter that comes down to a last possession. Consistency is so difficult, especially for a team as young as IU. We have Yogi, TZ, Hanner (who basically is a freshman in basketball knowledge) and then the rest are underclassmen, Go Hoosiers!

  • Cm

    Heard we ran a little box and one against Louisville, given the scouting report, I wonder if that’s a possibility here.

  • Dylan Wallis

    emmit got 7 boards in just 14 min last game. I dont understand why he’s getting the short end of the stick in minutes when he is the most efficient big man on the team. He needs to play at least 20 min a game….at least.

  • Dylan Wallis

    Every game is a trap

  • marcusgresham

    Newbill doesn’t worry me as much as, well, someone we aren’t even thinking of. IU seems to often do a good job of not letting the big scorer go off, but then some previously un-named clown has a career night (the dude from Central Connecticut State last year is a prime example, Venky Jois from EWU, Louisville’s guards, etc….)

  • marcusgresham

    One thing’s for sure about Taylor. He’ll keep shooting them whether they’re going in or not.

  • gm

    beat penn st and illinois and we crack the top 25 next week.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    I wanted to bash my t.v. in after last year’s Penn State loss…It had me ready to hitch a ride on the fire CTC bandwagon. Hope to see some passion in redemption tonight.

  • Bballpop

    Great minds…