Preview: Penn State Faces Top Seed Ohio State in Big Ten Semifinals

By Sam Watson on March 17, 2019 at 11:10 am
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Ohio State Buckeyes
20-9-5 (13-7-4 B1G)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
3:30 p.m. ET – SUNDAY, MAR. 17
VALUE CITY ARENA
COLUMBUS, OHIO
BTN | BTN2GO | GAMETRACKER
Read: Penn State Beats Wisconsin in B1G Quarterfinals

After beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals last weekend, Penn State travels to Ohio State for the one-game semifinal Sunday afternoon. It's win or go home for the Lions, because a win against Ohio State still would not be enough to clinch NCAA tournament berth. 

Scouting the Buckeyes

There's a very good reason Ohio State won the Big Ten regular season championship. They were the class of the conference from December on, and were not seriously threatened for the top spot for the last two months of the season. We all found out the hard way back in January how good this Buckeye team is when they came in to Pegula and swept the Lions. 

Mason Jobst, Tanner Laczynski, and Dakota Joshua led the way for Ohio State offensively. Jobst finished the regular season with 36 points which was good for the top 10 in the conference, and Laczynski and Joshua finished with 30 and 22 points, respectively. Ohio State has also had great scoring depth from players not named Jobst, Laczynki, or Joshua with nine other players finishing the regular season in double-digit points. For a team who's strength is not it offense, those are solid numbers. Where Ohio State has been unbelievably tough this season has been with its defense and goaltending. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten with 2.20 goals against per game and were back stopped by one very good and one great goaltender. Sean Romeo and Tommy Nappier split time all season, with Napier finishing ahead of Romeo in all of the important statistical categories. Nappier's 1.78 GAA and 0.937 save percentage was good enough to earn him a Mike Richter Award nomination for the most valuable NCAA goaltender. Simply put, this Ohio State team knows its identity and has played to it well all year. 

Keys to a Penn State Win

I've had two thoughts about this game and I'm torn between them. The first thought is that Penn State might have an edge early in the game because it played three games last weekend against an Ohio State team that hasn't played a game in two weeks. The second thought is that Ohio State will be fresher later into the game and that not playing three games in three days a week ago will benefit them a fair amount. Being that this is a Penn State Sports Fan Site, I'm going to stick to the first thought and hope that Penn State's conditioning holds. Besides conditioning, the biggest key for Penn State is keep Ohio State on the back foot (I know, easier said than done), and to prevent them from dictating too much of the game. Penn State must get second chance shots in and around the blue paint, and it has to keep the Buckeye forwards from parking in front of Peyton Jones and getting easy looks. If Penn State can grind out dirty, greasy goals and keep the game close until the second half of the third period, good things should happen. 

Prediction

Penn State usually plays well in Columbus and already got a road win against Ohio State this year, so I'm optimistic. Evan Barratt, Alex Limoges, and Liam Folkes were dominant Sunday against Wisconsin, and I expect them to continue to play like they have all year. Peyton Jones will be able to pick things up where he left on Sunday, and the defense will be strong enough to buy the offense the time it needs to win the game and send the Lions to the Big Ten Championship. We're going for broke, fam. Penn State 4, Ohio State 3.

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