CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Rhode Island (23-10) at Penn State (23-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 19th, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bryce Jordan Center (15,261) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: None. NIT Record: Rhode Island 10-13, Penn State 18-9. Series Record: Series is tied, 11-11.
GAME NOTES: Hitting the hardwood against each other for the second time this season, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Rhode Island Rams do so in the second round of the NIT at the Bryce Jordan Center. After failing to make the cut for the NCAA Tournament, even with 22 wins and a strong showing against the rest of the Big Ten Conference, the second-seeded Nittany Lions had to settle for the second tier of the postseason and on Tuesday night kicked it off in grand style with a 77-73 overtime victory versus George Mason at home. With the win, PSU is now 18-9 in the tourney all-time, an event in which PSU has had three third-place finishes since 1990 and a second-place finish following the 1997-98 campaign. As for the sixth-seeded Rams, they too played well during their Atlantic 10 Conference schedule but a one-point loss to UMass in the regular season finale and a 78-74 defeat at the hands of Duquesne in the A-10 Tournament meant there would be no trip to the NCAA Tournament. As a result, the Rams were pitted against Niagara at the Gallagher Center in New York two nights ago and captured a 68-62 triumph on the road to advance. Back in late November, these two teams clashed during the Hoop Group Philly Classic at The Palestra, with the Rams capturing a 77-72 victory, which means the all- time series between the two squads now stands at an even 11-11. The winner of this game will face the survivor of the Florida/Miami meeting in the quarterfinals next week.
Of his game-high 23 points, Kahiem Seawright tallied all but three of them in the second half on Tuesday night, pushing the Rams to the six-point win against Niagara. Seawright, who also added a game-high 10 rebounds, shot 8- of-15 from the floor and 7-of-9 at the charity stripe for the visitors. Jimmy Baron collected 20 points as he converted all six of his chances at the line. The team as a whole shot an even 50 percent from the field, which helped the group overcome 2-of-9 out on the perimeter and a total of 21 turnovers on the night. Baron, one of the top performers in the A-10 this season, is averaging 17.2 ppg for the Rams on a hefty 45.2 percent shooting behind the three-point line. Baron has knocked down an incredible 112 attempts beyond the arc in 33 starts, ranking him among the best in the nation in that department. Seawright checks in with 14.1 ppg and is the leader on the glass with better than seven and a half rebounds per game for a team that has topped opponents by three boards per outing and 7.2 ppg.
As if hitting the game-winner in the final moments of the meeting with 23rd- ranked Illinois the last time he appeared in the Bryce Jordan Center were not enough, Talor Battle went ahead and repeated the feat, to an extent on Tuesday night. Needing a three-pointer to extend the meeting with George Mason, Battle raised up and nailed a jumper from the right side to send the game to overtime and eventually a four-point win. Battle finished with a game-high 24 points, leading the charge in a game that experienced seven ties and 24 lead changes. Joining Battle in double figures were Jeff Brooks with 13 points, followed by Andrew Jones and Chris Babb with 11 points apiece. Battle has worked his way to the top of the scoring list for the Nittany Lions this season with 17.0 ppg, yet his 40.6 percent shooting from the field has been less than ideal. Almost as important as his production in terms of scoring, Battle is responsible for 167 assists, by far the most on the team. Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle, while not among the double-digit scorers in the first round of the tournament, have proven themselves nonetheless with 14.0 and 12.7 ppg, respectively.
As long as the Nittany Lions can keep Baron from picking them apart from the perimeter, this is a perfect chance for PSU to exact some revenge from a loss earlier in the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 69, Rhode Island 63
03/19 10:52:20 ET