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Big Ten action pits Hoosiers against Nittany Lions

The 12th-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions seeded Indiana Hoosiers in the opening round of the 2012 Big Ten Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Whichever team comes out on top of this matchup will advance to take on the fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the quarterfinal round on Friday.

The Hoosiers swept the season series, winning 88-82 in University Park on Jan. 8 before returning home to best the Nittany Lions, 73-54, at Assembly Hall on Jan. 22. Penn State managed to knock the Hoosiers out of the Big Ten Tournament last season by downing Indiana, 61-56, in last year's first round.

The Nittany Lions (12-19) are limping into the postseason on a losing streak which was extended to four games in their regular season ending 71-65 loss to Michigan. Coach Patrick Chambers did not find too much success in his first year in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions finished tied for last in the league standings with a 4-14 conference record. Penn State was not an explosive team offensively, as it was second to last in scoring offense with an average of only 61.9 ppg. The Nittany Lions were one of just two teams in the Big Ten with a negative scoring margin average, as they were bested by 3.6 ppg this season.

Indiana (24-7) has been much more successful this season, as it has outscored its opponents by an average of 12.2 ppg. Coach Tom Crean has returned the Hoosiers back into the national spotlight, much earlier than most expected as well. Crean's team is the only one in the nation that can boast about a victory over the nation's top ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Indiana should benefit from being able to play the conference tournament in its home-state, as it was 18-1 at home this season.

With the tough task of knocking off Indiana in front of the Hoosier faithful, Penn State will need a great performance out of its star point guard Tim Frazier. The junior floor general earned First-Team All-Big Ten Honors averaging league highs in assists and steals. Frazier also finished second in the conference in scoring with 19.6 ppg. Sophomore guard Jermaine Marshall ended the regular season with a spectacular 27-point and eight-rebound performance against Michigan. If the backcourt combo can both deliver, the odds of upsetting the Hoosiers will dramatically go up for PSU.

While IU might have its difficulties stopping Frazier, Penn State will have even more trouble with the Hoosiers' freshman phenomenon Cody Zeller. The rookie forward has been unstoppable, averaging 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds to lead the team. Matt Roth and Jordan Hulls have thrived as Zeller demands intention inside, as they rank one and two in the conference in three-point field goal percentage. Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo are also regularly scoring in double-figures to make the Hoosiers very difficult to guard.