College basketball preview capsules
Ohio State at PSU men
Tipoff: 12 p.m., Bryce Jordan Center
Records: Penn State (12-5, 2-4 Big Ten); Ohio State (12-5, 2-4 Big Ten)
Coaches: Pat Chambers is 139-145 in his ninth season at Penn State and 181-173 in 11 seasons overall. Chris Holtmann is 57-29 in his third season at Ohio State and 171-114 in nine seasons overall.
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
Notes: Penn State switched up the starting lineup for the first time this season against Minnesota with Seth Lundy and John Harrar sliding in for Myles Dread and Mike Watkins. Chambers said on Friday that Lundy has “earned” another start… Today’s game is set as Penn State’s annual THON game with proceeds from single-game student tickets being donated to cancer research… After struggling offensively the previous two games, the Nittany Lions dropped 46 in the first half against the Golden Gophers, but stalled with just 23 in the second for their third loss in a row… Ohio State has also been sputtering of late, having lost four of it’s last five, but the win coming on Tuesday against Nebraska… ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Ohio State a 50.3 percent chance to win.
Mirror prediction: Penn State 81, Ohio State 78
Comment: This game should have Penn State’s best home crowd of the season (if you don’t count The Palestra game as a home game). If that doesn’t fire this team up to end its losing streak, then the Nittany Lions are in trouble.
Mirror prediction record: 11-6
— Jack Hirsh
North Carolina at Pitt men
Tipoff: Noon, Petersen Events Center
Records: Pittsburgh (11-6, 2-4 in ACC); North Carolina (8-8, 1-4 in ACC)
Coaches: Jeff Capel is 25-25 in his second season at Pitt and is 187-135 in his 11th season overall. Roy Williams is 461-141 in his 17th season at North Carolina and is 879-241 in his 32nd season overall.
Notes: UNC coach Roy Williams said the school’s athletic director should look into firing him after the Tar Heels’ most recent loss to Clemson. … Pitt trails the all-time series 14-4 but won on the road Jan. 8, 73-65. … The Panthers are 8-0 this season and 15-0 under Jeff Capel when holding their opponent under 60 points. … Pitt led for more than 33 minutes of their overtime loss to Louisville Tuesday.
Mirror prediction: Pittsburgh 76, North Carolina 70
Comment: Who would have thought this would be a game Pitt “should” win at the start of the season?
Mirror prediction record: 13-4
— Michael Boytim
Sacred Heart at SFU men
Tipoff: 7 p.m., DeGol Arena
Records: Saint Francis (11-5, 4-1 NEC); Sacred Heart (10-7, 3-1)
Coaches: Rob Krimmel is 108-128 in his eighth season at Saint Francis and overall. Anthony Latina is 80-125 in his seventh season at Sacred Heart and overall.
Radio: Online at sfuathletics.com
Notes: This is a battle between two of the best teams in the NEC. Sacred Heart was picked to finish second in the league, while the Red Flash were picked third, and both teams are living up to their hype with one conference loss apiece. … The Flash have won four in a row and nine of 10. They’re coming off a 100-85 beatdown at FDU. … Sacred Heart has won three straight. … Isaiah Blackmon has been on fire of late for the Flash. He scored 25 the last time out and also has games of 28 and 24 points in his last five. … SFU’s Keith Braxton is one of 30 finalists nationally for the Senior CLASS Award, which goes to a Division I senior who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. … Saint Francis is favored by 4 ¢ points.
Mirror prediction: Saint Francis 78, Sacred Heart 73
Comment: The Flash must play well for 40 minutes to win this game. Saint Francis has a confident team right now and needs to get off to a good start to put pressure on the Pioneers.
Mirror prediction record: 13-3
— Cory Giger
Sacred Heart at SFU women
Tipoff: 4 p.m., DeGol Arena
Records: Sacred Heart (6-9 overall, 3-1 Northeast Conference); Saint Francis (6-10, 4-1).
Coaches: Keila Whittington is 6-10 in her first season at Saint Francis; Jessica Mannetti is 104-98 in her seventh year at Sacred Heart.
Live online: www.necfrontrow.com
Notes: Sacred Heart leads the all-time series 24-16 … Saint Francis was picked to finish second in the NEC preseason poll, while the Pioneers were tied for the third spot with Mount St. Mary’s … Both teams share Fairleigh Dickinson as its only losses in the early portion of conference play. SFU lost 56-47, while SHU fell 65-60 … The Red Flash have claimed the battle of the boards in their last two games. SFU outrebounded St. Francis Brooklyn, 37-20, and Wagner, 41-29 … Mannetti achieved her 100th career win in a 77-63 victory over Bridgeport on Nov. 20 … The Pioneers’ Nikki Johnson (10.9) and Jayla Davis (10.1) also average double figures in scoring .
Mirror prediction: Sacred Heart 74, Saint Francis 67
Comment: The Red Flash have won five of the last seven meetings between the two schools. The Pioneers seem to always play well at DeGol Arena, and this game shouldn’t be any different. Sacred Heart hasn’t won in Loretto since the 2015-16 season, but that streak ends today.
Mirror prediction record: 12-4
— Nate Ritchey