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Penn State's an NCAA Tournament Team to Watch, Analyst Says

By Mark Wogenrich,


Matt Youmans of VSiN calls Texas A&M a 'positive matchup' for Penn State in the first round.

Before the college football season, Matt Youmans suggested that Penn State was being overlooked. The Lions proved him right, going 11-2 and winning the Rose Bowl.

Now, the college sports analyst at VSiN considers Penn State basketball to be a bit undervalued as well. Before the season, he projected the Lions as a long-shot team to win the Big Ten basketball title. Now he likes them as 3-point underdogs against Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament .

Among the reasons: Youmans likes Penn State's 3-point offense, considers coach Micah Shrewsberry to be "shrewd" and favors underdogs that have the best player on the court (like the Lions' Jalen Pickett).

After predicting Penn State to win 10 football games last season , Youmans thinks the basketball team can win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2001.

Here's our interview with Youmans of VSiN .

Question: What stands out to you about the Penn State-Texas A&M matchup?

Matt Youmans : Penn State was my long-shot pick to win the Big 10 before the season, and there were basically two reasons for that. Micah Shrewsberry is a shrewd coach, very good with Xs and Os and obviously a really good recruiter. I knew he was a great hire at the time. And hopefully Penn State can keep him. I also like the personnel on the team. What I like about them is, Penn State's got five guys who can shoot the three and spread the floor. The one way you exploit the Nittany Lions is to have a big guy or have a strong front line and attack the basket, and I don't think Texas A&M is necessarily built to expose Penn State's weakness. So as long as those guys are knocking down threes, and they don't go cold like they did in the second half against Rutgers , I think it's just going to be a positive matchup for Penn State.

RELATED: Time for Penn State to make basketball a priority

Question: What advantages does Texas A&M have?

Youmans: The Aggies are the better defensive team. They're probably going to try to make it a slow-down, ugly type of game and hope that they can stick to the 3-point shooters. And that Penn State goes cold. That's their best hope from a Texas A&M perspective.

Now, I'm a little bit biased here, because I have not been a Texas A&M fan all season. I think this team's overrated. I know that the Aggies put up a pretty good record in the SEC, and I know there were a lot of complaints that A&M should have been seeded higher, like a five or a six. But I disagree. I think seven is about the right seed for A&M.

Question: You mentioned Micah Shrewsberry, Penn State's coach. What do you like about him?

Youmans: He's been in the Butler and Purdue programs when they won at a high level. He was with Brad Stevens at the Boston Celtics. And everybody raves about what a great guy he is, all the players who have played for him in the past, so he's a great player's coach. But when I watch him, I think he's just very good at making in-game adjustments, and he's smart about Xs and Os. He knows how basketball needs to be played.

Let's face it. Basketball now is mostly about the 3-pointer. He's got five guards out there who can spread the floor and shoot the three. He knows how the game is played right now. ... So if you've worked at Butler and Purdue and you've worked for Brad Stevens with the Celtics, you know what the hell you're doing. I thought, as soon as he got hired at Penn State, watch out, because Penn State's going to be on the rise in the Big Ten. Now the challenge is going to be to keep him there because so many schools with money will be stepping up that you've just got to pay your coaches if you want to keep them.

Question: Is Penn State a team that could make a tournament run?

Youmans: Texas [which Penn State could face in the second round] is beatable. I think the type of team that gives Penn State the most trouble is like Purdue and Arizona, where they have a big man. But not many teams have a big man like [Purdue's] Zach Edey.

I like playing five guards and guys who shoot threes, but you do have to find one guy who can play in the post and get physical. That's the thing that Penn State's kind of missing. But there's actually not many good big men in that entire bracket in the Midwest. If your shooters get hot, you can go far in the tournament.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich . And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.

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