Game 23: Penn State at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt

: Penn State (17-5) at Michigan  (14-8)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Thursday, February 4th, 7 PM
Spread: Michigan by 4
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Penn State KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Opposition Blog: Crispin and Cream, Black Shoe Diaries

Penn State systemically destroyed Michigan in their first meeting. They established the inside game early on with Jamelle Cornley and then blasted the game open in the second half with the three point shot. Talor Battle, Stanley Pringle, and Danny Morrissey combined to shoot 9 of 13 on three pointers while Jamelle Cornley scored 17 points on 8 of 10 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds.

These two teams are headed in different directions right now. Penn State has won four in a row including a huge road win at the Breslin Center. Michigan has lost five of their last six and doesn’t look anything like the team that beat Duke 2 months ago. Penn State fans are jumping on the bandwagon while Michigan fans are trying to get off.

Michigan is searching for answers right now. This is a team that needs something to spark them and get them going again. Maybe the elbows, maybe the embarrassment of their loss at Penn State, or maybe the NCAA tournament. I don’t care what it is, they need to start playing now or it will be too late.

Michigan showed signs of life in the first half against Purdue that they hadn’t shown at Penn State or Ohio State.  They battled and scrapped and even when their shots weren’t falling they played tougher defense than most of what we have seen for most of this year. Michigan will need to bring that first half intensity for 40 minutes if they are serious about beating the Nittany Lions.

Penn State’s statistical profile isn’t much different than the first time Michigan faced them. In bullet form:


  • Three Point Shooting: 39.4% three point field goal percentage (15th nationally)
  • Holding on to the ball: 17.1% turnover% (11th)
  • Three point defense: Opponents shoot 29.8% from long range (11th)
  • Keeping opponents off the line: Opponents FTA/FGA = 25% (7th).
  • Defensive Rebounding: 72.1 defensive rebounding percentage (7th)


  • Forcing turnovers: Only force turnovers on 19.1% of their opponents possessions (261st)
  • Blocking Shots: 4.8 block% (324th nationally)
  • Shooting free throws: 64.6% from the line ranks 286th nationally
  • Depth: Only 25.1% of Penn State’s minutes come from the bench (302nd)

A look at Penn State’s personnel invariably has to start with Talor Battle, who appears to be a clear favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year. Battle is averaging 19 ppg, 5.3 apg, and 5.5 rpg while shooting 41.1% from long range. Any Michigan fan that watched the first game is aware of what Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle and Danny Morrissey can do as well.  Cornley has been on fire during PSU’s last 5 games, averaging 20 ppg and 7.25 rpg. Morrissey continues to struggle with his shot but he hit three of four triples against Michigan. Stanley Pringle is the final Penn State sniper and he’s hitting 50% from three point range, higher than his overall shooting percentage.

Similar to Northwestern, Penn State is coming to Ann Arbor after a big win in East Lansing. Michigan handled Northwestern with relative ease and I wouldn’t mind seeing a similar outcome against the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately it’s not going to be that easy. Penn State looks to be the real deal but they still have their work cut out for them if they want to make the tournament. The Nittany Lions didn’t play much of anyone in the non-conference season and may need to win as many as 11 games in conference to make the dance.

I think this one comes down to defense. If Michigan can slow down Penn State’s dynamic offense they can pull this one out at home. If not, it’s going to be a rough month or so for Michigan fans as Michigan’s tournament chances continue to drop.

Thoughts, predictions, and in game discussion in the comments.

Pre-Game Reading (updated throughout the day):

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  • BJ

    free student tickets? still waiting on the email…

  • Dylan

    Should be free I think. Every game but msu and osu were scheduled to be free I believe.

  • Well…this is it.

    They better play like it.

    Michigan 66, PSU 59

  • JimC

    Penn State SUCKS!!

    I should probably edit that.

  • I lied about editable comments… They didn’t work :-)

  • Server is also running slowly, hosting service is doing maintenance. E-mail me if you have any huge problems.

  • Paul

    I like Michigan over Penn State 70-66. It’s good that Manny Harris didn’t get suspended.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Well, today marks the beginning of our NCAA tournament. Ours just has a few more rounds than normal. Can we get out of the first round?

  • qb waggle

    Just got the email for free student tickets.

  • Jayson

    I think this game will be very similar to NW….we are on full rest with 3 full practices in between games, which has yielded good results thus far this season. I think Big Blue rebounds and keeps tourney hopes alive….UM 70 – PSU 62

  • Pingback: NYE: Michigan Part 2 « Crispin and Cream()

  • Frank

    This game is not going to be any different than the last one if Jamelle Cornley is allowed to shoot 80% from the field again. You’ll notice that Pringle and Battle didn’t really get hot until the 2nd half last time, but they didn’t need to because Cornley was so dominant, even though Sims has 3 inches on him. If necessary, Michigan should double team him, maybe with Gibson or Shepard.

  • Avery Queen

    I’m sure the maize rage will be doing their not so clever mimic of the Penn St chant to start the game off. Hopefully our team won’t be as lame.

  • Adam

    Anyone have a link to watch online?

  • Frank

    Deshawn Sims not starting!

  • Dylan

    13-12. Michigan is containing battle but cornley has two threes already. Manny has a couple threes but needs to slow it down and he knows it. Sims and Douglass coming in now…

  • Avery Queen

    Close game but we finally look like we are playing our game.

  • Frank

    Since *WHEN* has Jamelle Cornley been a 3 pt threat!? He’s 3-3!

  • Avery Queen

    Yeah he is out of control. Grady??

  • DetUMICH

    link to online stream of game (halftime now of course)

  • WTHef?

    Wither Grady?

  • Frank

    In four years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jamelle Cornley play as well as he is now. What happened?

  • David

    Thanks for the online stream

  • Frank

    What a difference a longer bench makes for defensive intensity!

  • Avery Queen

    If Novak and Stu could hit a 3 this would be a 20 point game. Maybe our best all around performance of the B10 season.

  • Frank

    Either Kelvin is sick, benched, or possibly saving a fresh point guard for UConn?

  • Frank

    Happy Birthday Beilein, FTW!

  • Great win, sorry I stopped with the updates my phone died midway through the first half… Post game coming up. Michigan NEEDED that one and they knew it and played their best defensive game of the year.

  • Is the site going extremely slow for you guys? lemme know on here or e-mail…

  • Sheryl

    I can’t use the site when on Explorer (can see it but it won’t scroll, links don’t work etc).
    No problem on Firefox though.

  • Kevin

    I was having the same problems Sheryl. Seems to be working a little better now. Thanks for the tip.

  • Dylan

    I just checked out the problem (and I see what you guys mean). I tried to clean up a little code but let me know if you still see it. I’ll try to fix it after I finish the post game.

  • formerlyanonymous

    It was a bit slow for me earlier today. At one point it told me there was a server error and it wouldn’t connect (around 3:20pm today).

    Great game tonight.

  • Sheryl

    It’s working on Explorer for me now.