Penn State vs. Colgate Preview: Nittany Lions Look to Take Care of Business

By Chad Markulics on December 8, 2018 at 9:00 am
Nov 21, 2018; Syracuse, NY, USA; Colgate Raiders forward Rapolas Ivanauskas (25) drives to the basket past Syracuse Orange forward Bourama Sidibe (34) during the first half at the Carrier Dome

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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Colgate
Colgate Raiders
7-3 (0-0 Patriot League)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
2:00 p.m. ET – Saturday, Dec. 8
BRYCE JORDAN CENTER
STATE COLLEGE, PA
Watch Info: BTN Plus ($) | GAMETRACKER
KenPom Rank: 166
Vegas Line: PSU -14

Tuesday's home loss against Indiana was vintage Penn State basketball, and in no way is that a compliment. The Nittany Lions did everything well aside from putting the ball in the basket, turning the clock back to Patrick Chambers' first year at the helm. They'll get a chance to recoup offensively on Saturday before a trip to Atlantic City on the 15th to face a formidable NC State.

Not to overlook the Colgate Raiders completely, though. This is a capable team, albeit one that has yet to break through against a quality opponent. 

Projected Starters
Penn State   Colgate
Rasir Bolton - 6'2" - Fr. 1 Jordan Burns - 6'0" - Soph.
Myles Dread - 6'4" - Fr. 2 Tucker Richardson - 6'5" - Fr.
Josh Reaves - 6'5" - Sr. 3 Will Rayman - 6'8" - Jr.
Lamar Stevens - 6'8" - Jr. 4 Dana Batt - 6'9" - Sr.
John Harrar - 6'8" - Soph. 5 Rapolas Ivanauskas - 6'8" - Sr.

Lost in the aftermath of the Indiana defeat was Chambers' announcement that Rasir Bolton will take over starting point guard duties after taking the reigns against the Hoosiers. Bolton's development as a scorer and distributor will be critical to Penn State's success going forward for a team lacking creativity on offense. Seventeen points on 14 shots was a decent enough start in that respect.

Scouting Report

Colgate presents a balanced attack and challenges at all three levels on offense. Jordan Burns will challenge Bolton in his second start. Head coach Matt Langel's point guard has been one of the best in mid-major ball, averaging 17 points and 4.5 assists per game in addition to 42.5% shooting from beyond the arc. The Raiders also benefit from Chris Collins' Wildcat Internship Program - Rapolas Ivanauskas is a Northwestern carefrontation victim who found a soft landing spot at Colgate, averaging 15.3 points and ten boards per game in ten contests. He'll offer another test for Mike Watkins in his transition back to game shape. Will Rayman will be a tough matchup at the three at 6'8" in Langel's rather tall starting five, though he's not as efficient an offense threat as Burns and Ivanauskas.

The Raiders struggled in their two games against high-major programs. They offered little resistance for Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and fell by ten against a subpar South Florida team in Tampa. 

Keys to the Game

To borrow a phrase from Chambers, this game is about how well Penn State can execute offensively, and less about the other end of the floor. The Nittany Lions are in an offensive funk right now - a Patriot League opponent offers them a chance to impose their will and get back some of the mojo they had earlier in the season. Colgate neither blocks many shots nor forces many turnovers on defense, giving Penn State every chance to impose their will.

Prediction

Suffice it to say a loss will be catastrophic for the Nittany Lions, who are positioned squarely behind the eight ball after the 0-2 Big Ten start. Fortunately high-major teams who do the little things well rarely lose to less-talented opponents, and shooting tends to come around in games like these. I like the Nittany Lions to cover and avoid the epitome of brutality: Penn State 82, Colgate 60.

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