8 p.m. vs. Penn State • BTN, 100.3-FM
The Nittany Lions’ rise and fall
Preview: Only a week ago, Penn State (12-4, 2-3 in the Big Ten) was the 20th-ranked team in college basketball and making a case to be the Big Ten’s biggest surprise after five consecutive victories, which included over then-No. 4 Maryland and then-No. 23 Iowa. The Nittany Lions, who earned their first national ranking in 23 years this season, were finally starting to turn the corner in Pat Chambers’ ninth season in State College. But the Gophers (9-7, 3-3) aren’t playing host to a ranked opponent Wednesday at Williams Arena. The Nittany Lions dropped out of this week’s Top 25 after losses to Rutgers on the road and Wisconsin at home. They face a tough task to regroup with a four-game losing streak against the Gophers — and no victories at the Barn since 2015.
Players to watch: Gophers sophomore center Daniel Oturu was named Big Ten player of the week for the second time this season Monday after his career-best 30 points and seven rebounds in last weekend’s 75-67 victory against then-No. 19 Michigan. Oturu was limited in practice Tuesday to rest his left shoulder after an injury scare in the second half against the Wolverines. Penn State senior forwards Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins hope to reach the program’s first NCAA tournament since 2001, but they’ll have to play better than in recent games.
Numbers: The Nittany Lions (No. 35) and the Gophers (No. 41) are among 12 Big Ten teams ranked in the top 41 of the NET rankings, which help determine NCAA tournament selection.