Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
While the football program has been at the center of the national media surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal and cover up, the Penn State Nittany Lions basketball program remains in the shadows at not-so Happy Valley. A year after making the NCAA Tournament, PSU returned to their normal home; the cellar of the Big Ten. Don’t expect much to change this year either.
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
Last Season: T-11th, 4-14 in Big Ten, 12-20 overall
Predicted Big Ten Finish: 11th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jon Graham (So)/Pat Ackerman (So)/Donovan Jack (Fr)
PF: Billy Oliver (Jr)/Ross Travis (So)/Sasa Boronjvak (Jr)/Brandon Taylor (Fr)
G/F: Jermaine Marshall (Jr)/Akosa Maduegbunam (Fr)
SG: D.J. Newbill (So)/Nick Colella (Sr)
PG: Tim Frazier (Sr)
Gone: SG-Cammeron Woodyard, G-Trey Lewis (transfer-Cleveland State), C-Peter Alexis (transfer-Philadelphia U.), SG-Matt Glover (transfer-San Francisco)
Two years ago, they were the Penn State “Talor Battles.” Last year, it was the Penn State “Tim Fraziers.” As a junior, Frazier led the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Without a ton of talent around him, he was forced to shoulder the load playing 37 minutes a night and relied on his quickness off the bounce to get the job done since he shot just 37% from the floor. Without a true backup point guard on the roster this season, Frazier will once again be a workhorse for Patrick Chambers’ squad.
The graduation of Cameron Woodyard along with the transfers of Trey Lewis and Matt Glover leaves the Nittany Lions thin on the wing. Southern Miss transfer D.J. Newbill was a Conference USA All-Freshman honoree two years ago and sat out last season. He is a gifted athlete who rebounds well for his size and should start right away for Penn State.
Jermaine Marshall was the second leading scorer last year and returns to provide PSU with a second banana to Frazier. Freshman Akosa Maduegbanum is a physical wing who is explosive at the rim and should be a key reserve. Walk-on Nick Colella worked his way into the rotation last season and is the Nittany Lions best pure shooter.
The Nittany Lions have a collection of post players, none of which really stand out with their skill. Billy Oliver, Ross Travis, Jonathan Graham, and Sasha Borovnjak all saw quality minutes last year but only Oliver averaged more than five points per game and the Travis was the lone player of that quartet to grab more than four boards a night. Chambers has a ton of depth inside with seldom-used sophomore Patrick Ackermann, and freshmen Donovan Jack and Brandon Taylor.
If any of those post players can make a jump and become more of an inside post presence, Penn State could maybe surprise me this season. More than likely though, they will rely heavily on the Frazier/Newbill/Marshall trio to provide their offense and finish near the bottom of the Big Ten standings.
Player to Watch: D.J. Newbill
Frazier is the obvious choice here but Penn State knows what they’ll get from their senior point guard. Newbill is more of an x-factor for this team. Originally a Marquette commit, the 6’4 wing had a solid freshman season at Southern Miss but decided to transfer closer to home. He is a gritty player but not a great outside shooter which should be a weakness of this Nittany Lion team that shot just 31% from downtown last season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. N.C. State (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/15 vs. Povidence/UMass (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/15 vs. Tennessee/UNC-Asheville/Oklahoma State/Akron (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/23 vs. Bucknell
11/28 vs. Boston College (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/5 at La Salle
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.