Michigan vs. Penn State: How the Nittany Lions Can Win on Senior Night

Varun RavishankerContributor IIIFebruary 27, 2013

Penn State came close to upsetting Michigan just ten days ago
Penn State came close to upsetting Michigan just ten days agoRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight's Big Ten matchup between Michigan and Penn State may look like a serious mismatch on paper, but the Nittany Lions could be looking at a season-making first league win against the fourth-ranked Wolverines.

These two teams come into the matchup with a lot on the line. 

Indiana suffering their third league loss last night bolstered Michigan's slim hopes at a Big Ten title, but the Wolverines will need to win out to keep that hope alive.

On the other hand, with a big game against Michigan State next on the schedule and Indiana looming down the road, the minds of Wolverine players may be elsewhere tonight.

Penn State is just looking for a marquee win to alleviate some of the sting of an 0-14 conference record. Wins don't get much bigger than beating the No. 4 team in the country on your home court on Senior Night.

You can bet the Nittany Lions will be amped up for tonight's contest.

This matchup screams trap game for Michigan, especially given how well the Nittany Lions played the last time these two teams met.

Michigan and Penn State met just ten days ago in Ann Arbor, and the Nittany Lions hung tough for most of the game before the Wolverines pulled away in the second half.

Penn State led that game by as many as eight points several times in the first half, and Michigan needed a circus shot by Trey Burke to tie the game. That shot swung momentum in Michigan's favor going into the second half.


Michigan pulled the game out 79-71, but Penn State showed some gritty play and proved they can hang with the Wolverines.

That was just one in a recent string of tough losses for the Nittany Lions. They've lost their last three games by an average of just five points, and it's only a matter of time before they get over the hump for that first win.

If they want to pull off the upset, they will need a boost from an offense that has been relatively anemic at times this season.

That starts with D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, the only Nittany Lions to average over seven points per game.

Look for Sasa Borovnjak to take some of the pressure off those two to score since he's put up double-digit points in his past three games. He had a career high 17 points in two of those performances—including at Michigan.

Expect the streak of strong play to continue for the senior as he plays in front of his home crowd on Senior Night.

The Nittany Lions have been building towards a big win for a few games now, and last week they showed they can hang with the fourth-ranked Wolverines. If Michigan sits back even a little during this game, it could be just what Penn State needs to steal a huge upset win in University Park.