Teams: Syracuse Orange (4-2, 0-1) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 0-0)
Date & Time: Friday, November 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Extended Forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 46.
The Line: No line at current, though ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Penn State a 60.3% chance to win.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 62-43, Syracuse
Current Streak: Syracuse has won 11 straight against PSU, dating back to 1975.
First Meeting: Syracuse basketball lost in a barnburner, 22-21 at Penn State. Syracuse was led by Wilbur Crisp, who had 11 points in the loss.
Last Meeting: The last time these two teams met was before I was born. Back in January of 1982, Syracuse defeated Penn State 69-68 behind a strong game from Erich Santifer with 16 points.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,049-381 at SU) | Penn State - Patrick Chambers (9th Year, 132-141 at PSU)
Coach Bio: Patrick Chambers is coming off his worst season since 2012. Last year the Nittany Lions went 14-18 and 7-13 in conference. But don’t let that poor record fool you, as this year’s Penn State squad is good, and Chambers’ teams are always a nuisance on the defensive end.
He played for Philadelphia University from 1990-94, then spent two years as an assistant with Delaware Valley. Chambers moved on from there to Philadelphia, then Villanova from 2004-09 before getting his first head coaching job at Boston University. Two 20-win seasons and an NCAA Tournament bid were enough to get him the PSU job. He’s kept it despite failing to make the NCAAs yet with the Nittany Lions.
Last Year: Penn State wasn’t a very good basketball team. They had five non-conference losses and finished in the bottom half of the Big Ten. The highlights to the season were home wins over Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Maryland.
Last Game: Penn State had a 21-point lead in the second half against Ole Miss before a fairly historic collapse. They were up by as many as 19 with 12 minutes left, before ultimately falling 74-72.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Lamar Stevens is the heart and soul of Penn State this season. Stevens is averaging 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per contest. A 6-foot-8 senior, he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and getting garbage buckets.
The scariest part is that Stevens is averaging those numbers in only 30 minutes per game. For comparison, Elijah Hughes averages 19 points per game for Syracuse basketball, but plays almost six minutes more each night.
Lamar Stevens is versatile and isn’t going to be afraid to attack our back line. It will be interesting to see how Syracuse defends him, considering the foul trouble we had against the big physical play of Oklahoma State. Hopefully things will be a bit different this game.
If Syracuse Wins: Good bounce-back win. While this game is certainly not a “must win” at this stage of the season, a win here goes a long way in balancing out the debacles against Oklahoma State and Virginia and proves that Syracuse can hang with good teams.
If Syracuse Loses: A loss here is bad. Not catastrophic, but not a good sign for the rest of the year. Let’s face it, this is Penn State we’re talking about, not Duke, North Carolina, or Louisville. If we lose to Penn State, how do we possibly stay competitive against the big dogs in the ACC?
Fun Fact 1: Syracuse basketball is 2-0 all time against the Nittany Lions on a neutral court. Let’s hope it’s 3-0 after Friday night.
Fun Fact 2: Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim is 9-0 versus Penn State all-time. Additionally, the 105 games in the rivalry mark the fourth-most contested series in Syracuse history.