George Mason will be in Happy Valley tonight and will have another chance to get a top 100 win and extend their longest winning streak since 2011-12. Penn State (#99 Kenpom) has won their last four but have been up and down so far, losing to Albany and coming within 10 points of Duke. This will be one of the toughest defenses Mason has seen so far this season and they have been holding teams to shooting under 44% from the field. On offense Mason has been shooting the ball better lately and have a big rebounding advantage over the Nittany Lions if they keep doing what they’ve been doing. You might remember the last time these two teams faced it was in the NIT back in 2009 and Penn State won in OT on a late three-pointer.
Marquise Moore has been playing out of his mind and will garner a lot of attention from Penn State tonight. Another strong showing from Ian Boyd and Karmari Newman off the bench could very well be the difference again in this one if Moore is held to single digits. Otis Livingston II and Jaire Grayer were a big part of the win against Mercer so hopefully they can keep that consistency going. If Moore gets a lot extra defenders Mason will have to be smart with their possessions and shot selection. Lately they have been better in that area but they can’t let the freshmen just let it fly if they find themselves in a hole early.
One thing to keep an eye on is how efficient Mason’s offense can be if they don’t get to the free-throw line much in this one. Penn State does not send teams to the line much and getting points from there, especially from Moore, has been a big part of their offense. Moore and Livingston have been a dynamic duo in the back court and should hopefully still drive the basket well tonight despite a tougher defense. Penn State will do their best to force Mason into a jump shooting team tonight and they can’t let themselves have the game dictated by their opponent. Three-point shooting has improved since the beginning of the year but I don’t think it’s something they can continually rely on each night.
I like Mason’s chances tonight though, they are playing with confidence and have been much more efficient on offense. Their hard work on both ends has been putting them in positions to win, a big improvement form last season. This is an opponent that might throw them off their game plan that has worked well during this five game win streak and we will have to see how they respond if that does happen tonight.
Game will be on the Big Ten Network at 7 pm
[Photo by Bill Bride]