BASKETBALL. IS. BACK.
Yes, it’s really here already. Our RLR staff did their best to predict how year one of the Micah Shrewsberry era for Penn State basketball will play out.
Plenty of opportunities for you to revisit these predictions and yell at us when the Nittany Lions go on the greatest run in college basketball history and make it to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Craig Fritz: Jalen Pickett. I feel like Pickett is the obvious choice, considering his to-date accomplishments at Siena. I expect he'll be a starter, and with starter's minutes will be the biggest contributor among the newbies.
Brad Peterson: Siena transfer Jalen Pickett will be asked to do a lot for the team, including filling the scoring void left by Myreon Jones' transfer.
Matt Filipovits: Greg Lee. The Nittany Lions need help in the front court. Lee won't light up the box score, but he'll give the most valuable minutes of any newcomer once he returns from injury.
Vincent Lungaro: I’ll keep the Jalen Pickett love rolling. Greg Lee is also someone I expect to make an impact once healthy, but Pickett is a former MAAC Player of The Year and will be this team’s lead guard. As Brad mentioned, he’s going to fill the shoes of Myreon Jones.
Craig Fritz: John Harrar. Big John bought into the vision of the new staff and wants to put an exclamation point on his PSU career. I expect a big year from him.
Brad Peterson: John Harrar is the heart and soul of the team. His hard-nosed play will set the tone for the entire squad.
Matt Filipovits: Seth Lundy. Lundy is going to thrive in Shrewsberry's system. I think he'll earn all-conference honors at the end of the campaign.
Vincent Lungaro: I’ll go with Seth Lundy. We’ve seen flashes of the player Lundy can be, just not on a consistent basis. I’m betting Shrewsberry will get the best out of Lundy and he explodes into an All-Big Ten performer.
Craig Fritz: Penn State makes the postseason...and not that CBI business.
Brad Peterson: John Harrar will lead the Big Ten in rebounding. In a league with big name big men like Kofi Cockburn, Trevion Williams and Hunter Dickinson, Harrar will grab more rebounds than all competitors.
Matt Filipovits: The Nittany Lions don't lose until the second week in December. A 4-0 start is likely. I think they can make some noise in the Emerald Coast Classic, beat Miami and Ohio State at home, and take down Wagner. That December 11 trip to East Lansing will be loss No. 1.
Vincent Lungaro: Penn State knocks off at-least three Top-25 teams. The Big Ten is going to be a slugfest again this season and the Nittany Lions are going to pull off multiple upsets in conference play.
MOST INTRIGUING NONCONFERENCE GAME
Craig Fritz: For me, it's Miami. The Hurricanes aren't the most talented non-con game, but after plucking Adam Fisher from South Beach, it's an intriguing matchup considering the newfound connections between programs.
Brad Peterson: The ACC-Big Ten Challenge game against Miami will not only be a contest against a great coach, Jim Larranaga, and a team that is typically stacked with high-end talent, but it will also pit PSU assistant coach Adam Fisher against his old boss and players.
Matt Filipovits: UMass.This isn't an exciting matchup, but it will be our first real look at this team. Game one always has jitters, so game two is when the picture should start to take shape.
Vincent Lungaro: Youngstown State. Not because of the opponent, more so because it marks the official start of a new era for Penn State basketball. I’m really excited to see what Shrewsberry can do with this program and it starts with the opening matchup with the Penguins.
BEST/WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR THIS SEASON
Craig Fritz: Best case is this senior-laden team gels exquisitely, breaks .500 or better in the Big Ten and goes dancing. The worst case is Shrewsberry's roster experiment bombs and they win seven games.
Brad Peterson: Best case scenario is all the pieces come together, everyone stays healthy and the team is on the bubble. Worst case scenario is the season goes off the rails and ends with single digit wins.
Matt Filipovits: Best case - a .500 record in conference play and an outside shot at the Big Dance. Worst case - The Big Ten gets the best of them and they finish in the bottom four of the league.
Vincent Lungaro: Best case scenario is newcomers like Pickett, Lee and Jaheam Cornwall adjust to the Big Ten level quickly, the returnees develop well under Shrewsberry, and the Nittany Lions are at least in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid down the stretch of the regular season. Worst case scenario is the newcomers struggle with this higher level of competition, Penn State can’t replace the players it lost, and they struggle to a bottom-place finish in the Big Ten.
Craig Fritz: 16-15 (9-2 non-conference, 7-13 Big Ten).
Brad Peterson: 12-19. Most preseason polls have the Nittany Lions finishing 13th and I don't disagree. The league is stacked and wins will be hard to come by.
Matt Filipovits: 18-13. A solid first year but the tourney drought continues.
Vincent Lungaro: 15-16. This team will be competitive and fun to watch. A gauntlet of a Big Ten is too much to push for any kind of NCAA Tournament bid, though.