It was a watershed season for the Penn State Nittany Lions (26-13 Overall, 9-9 Big Ten), as the team record its second-most wins in a season (26) and went on to take down the NIT. The Lions beat Utah convincingly 82-66 to take crown. Our 2018-19 Penn State Nittany Lions basketball preview sees this team, which welcomes back three double-digit scorers, as once again enjoying a very productive season. We expect Penn State to once again certainly go to the NIT. However, if this basketball team can step up just a bit and take down a few big games, they will attend the Big Dance. But certain elements have to fall into place for this to occur.
If Mike Watkins (12.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 68.5 FG%), a junior forward, can play, he’ll be a major force on the court. Watkins missed the latter part of the season due to injury. After that, he had some off-court issues that could result in him missing numerous games this season. Another important part of the frontcourt is junior forward Lamar Stevens (15.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 46.5 FG%). Stevens can complete a string of baskets seemingly at will. Sophomore forward John Harrar, who shot 54.5% from the field last year and averaged 7.1 MPG, could see expanded playing time this season.
Two important elements of last year’s success, Tony Carr and Shep Garner, are gone. Last season, as a sophomore, Carr was the Big Ten’s second leading scorer and both players were lights put on threes. Sophomore guard Jamari Wheeler (2.0 PPG, 1.4 APG, 34.8 FG%) could replace Carr. Although it’s doubtful he’ll be as productive as Carr was, Wheeler brings a sound physical presence to the floor. Two freshmen guards, Rasir Bolton and Myles Dread, could see important minutes.
2018-19 Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Preview – Final Word
The last time Penn State took down the NIT championship, which was in 2009, they put up some dismal numbers the following season as they went 11-120. But our 2018-19 Penn State Nittany Lions basketball preview does not expect that to happen this season. We think that coach Patrick Chambers has a solid team that can score points and play decent defense. In fact, if forward Mike Watkins can stay healthy and out of trouble and some of the new talent comes through, this team has a shot at the Big Dance. Without Watkins and/or if the freshmen falter, we still expect a NIT berth.