Texas vs Penn State NCAA Tournament Prediction, Game Preview
Here’s everything that you need to know about the Texas Longhorns and Penn State Nittany Lions in our NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview and prediction.
Midwest Region – Second Round
No. 2 Texas (27-8) vs. No. 10 Penn State (23-13)
Game Info: Saturday, March 18; 6:45 PM CT, CBS
How They Got Here: Texas knocked off No. 15 seed Colgate, 81-61, to advance while Penn State took down No. 7 seed Texas A&M, 76-59, to get to the second round.
Winner gets: A trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
Texas: G Tyrese Hunter, G Marcus Carr, F Timmy Allen, F Dillon Mitchell, C Dylan Disu
Penn State: G Jalen Pickett, G Camren Wynter, G Andrew Funk, F Seth Lundy, C Kebba Njie
PLAYER TO WATCH
G Sir’Jabari Rice: Against Colgate in the first round, Texas guard Sir’Jabari Rice hit a career-high seven 3-pointers as part of a 23-point performance. When asked when the last time he felt that confident was, Rice had a hilarious answer. “I don’t necessarily feel hot, because I missed three,” Rice said, sending teammate Marcus Carr into a burst of laughter. “But I’m just trying to keep it going.”
G Jalen Pickett: Penn State’s top player is without a doubt senior guard Jalen Pickett. The second-team AP All-American averages 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 0.9 steals per game, all of which lead the team. Against Texas A&M, Pickett posted a 19-7-8 line to help lead the Nittany Lions past a tough Texas A&M squad. With the Aggies focused on Pickett, guard Andrew Funk had the best shooting night of his career, going 8-10 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 27 points.
Against Colgate, Texas found a way to bury shots from behind the arc. Texas hit 56.5% (13-23) of its attempts from three, while holding the nation’s top three-point shooting team to 20% (3-15) from deep. Texas will need more of the same on Saturday, as they will face a Penn State squad that just shot 59.1% (13-22) from three and demolished a good Texas A&M team in doing so. Throughout the season, the Longhorns have had a hard time protecting the three-point line and that will be a point of emphasis in this game.
Penn State entered the tournament as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, averaging 10.4 made three-pointers per game and hitting nearly 39% from downtown, good for 11th-best nationally. Can they replicate that kind of success against a defense that just suffocated the top shooting team in the country? Also, does Penn State have the bodies inside to keep Dylan Disu under wraps? With so much attention outside, it feels like this game might actually be won, or, lost in the paint.
Texas 77, Penn State 76.
Get your popcorn folks, this one is going to be fun. Texas is going to be in for a dog fight if sees Penn State as a 10-seed and not for what they really are. The Nittany Lions are more than capable of ruining Texas’ tournament run if the Longhorns take them lightly, but I don’t think that will happen. As the Longhorns and Lions trade shots, Texas will send Penn State packing with a late go-ahead jumper and a defensive stop at the other end.