Penn State Meets Wisconsin for Right to Play in First Ever Big Ten Championship

Penn State Meets Wisconsin for Right to Play in First Ever Big Ten Championship

Penn State heads in to the final week of the regular season with a chance to play for the Big Ten championship on the line. The winner of today’s game in Madison between Wisconsin and Penn State will send the winner to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis next week.
        

Wisconsin entered the season as the Big Ten favorite, thanks in large part to the addition of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson leads the Big Ten pass efficiency with a rating of 199.3, more than 50 points higher than Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and eighty points higher than Penn State’s Matt McGloin. Wilson leads the conference in passing touchdowns, with 26 and is third in passing with 2,506 yards while completing 73.6 percent of his pass attempts, by far the best in the Big Ten. Wilson is also a threat to run with the football as well, with 289 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
        
But Wilson is just one half of Wisconsin’s dynamic duo. Running back Montee Ball has scored a Big Ten record 30 touchdowns, including 25 on the ground. Ball has been building some Heisman hype in recent weeks as the Big Ten’s leading rusher with 1,466 rushing yards and averaging 6.6 yards per carry. With Ball and Wilson it is no wonder Wisconsin is fifth in the nation in scoring and top ten in rushing.
        
Penn State’s defense has been steady all season long, but this may be their toughest challenge from an opposing offense yet. Wisconsin has scored no fewer than 28 points in a game this season and they have 29 and 31 points in their two losses this season. The key for Penn State’s defense will be to recognize that Wisconsin is going to have some success and move the football, and get on the scoreboard but limit the big plays. Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Outland Trophy will have his work cut out for him this weekend against a Wisconsin offensive line that is traditionally very good, although they have shown some cracks in the second half of the season.
        
Wisconsin has a pretty solid defense as well, led by Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, who are 1-2 in the Big Ten in tackles per game. Wisconsin has allowed just 15.9 points per game this season, and they have allowed 17 points or less in each of their last three games. This means that Penn State’s shaky offense will have to find a way to move the football and get some points on the scoreboard. Last week Penn State excelled running the wildcat offense, and head coach Tom Bradley says there may be more in the works for this weekend.
        
“We'll have a couple of things maybe we haven't done in the past,” Bradley said during his weekly press conference this week. “We'll put them in. We'll take a look at in the next couple of days, and we'll have a game plan going into the game. How much we use certain things last week the Wildcat was in early. It was in our script early. I think it was in two or three times for the first 11 plays. So each week's different.”
        
Much has been made about where Penn State will be heading this bow season, or whether or not they should accept a bowl invitation. Of course they should accept an invitation, when it comes (and it will). But a win today will send Penn State to the Big Ten championship game, with an automatic trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. After all these players have been through this season, it would be the justified reward for them, but they will gladly accept any bowl trip that comes their way.
       
Penn State kicks off in Madison with Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m.

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

Best of NBA: Heat stun Warriors on Dion Waiters' 3 with 0.6 seconds left

MIAMI -- Dion Waiters' 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left capped his 33-point effort, and the Miami Heat beat Golden State 105-102 on Monday night to end the Warriors' seven-game winning streak.

The Heat wasted a 10-point lead in the final 4 minutes, and Kevin Durant tied the game on a dunk with 11.7 seconds left. With no timeouts, Waiters walked the ball up the court and drilled what became the game-winner over Klay Thompson.

Stephen Curry missed a 3-pointer as time expired for the Warriors (see full recap).

Rivers, Crawford lead Clippers past Hawks
ATLANTA -- Austin Rivers scored 27 points and Jamal Crawford broke out of a shooting slump with 19, helping the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Atlanta Hawks 115-105 on Monday night.

Crawford had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a driving basket after Atlanta cut the Clippers' lead from 24 to five points.

Kent Bazemore led the Hawks with 25 points. Dennis Schroder had 21, and Dwight Howard added 16 points and 12 rebounds (see full recap).

Wizards beat Hornets behind Wall’s 24
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- John Wall firmly believes the Washington Wizards are a good team with plenty of playoff potential.

The key, he said, "is we just got to believe it every time we step on the court."

Wall had 24 points and seven assists, and the Wizards looked plenty confident as they continued their run up the Eastern Conference standings with a 109-99 win against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night (see full recap).

Kings snap skid with win over Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

Ty Lawson added 19 points and helped Sacramento turn the game around with a strong second quarter. Lawson scored nine points in the second, and the Kings outscored the Pistons 37-24 in the period to take a 65-62 lead into halftime.

A 3-pointer by Lawson put Sacramento up 101-90 in the fourth, and the Kings held on from there to stop Detroit's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Jones, Holiday lead Pelicans past Cavs
NEW ORLEANS -- Terrence Jones filled in brilliantly for injured All-Star Anthony Davis, scoring a season-high 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking LeBron James' dunk attempt in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-122 on Monday night.

Jrue Holiday added 33 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, and Langston Galloway capped a 12-point night with a clean steal on James' drive in the final minute, preventing the Cavs from erasing a deficit they had trimmed from 22 late in the first half to three with 1:32 left in the game.

Kyrie Irving scoring 35 of his 49 points in the second half, but the Cleveland fell to its fifth loss in seven games. James had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

Best of NHL: Henrik Lundqvist's 36 saves leads Rangers past Kings

NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Rangers over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday night.

Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Mats Zuccarello scored to help New York win its third straight since a three-game skid.

Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford scored, and Jeff Zatkoff finished with 14 saves for Los Angeles, which has lost four straight and five of seven.

Lundqvist has given up just four goals on 84 shots during the winning streak -- including a 1-0 shutout at Detroit on Monday -- after allowing 20 on 113 shots the previous four games.

The veteran goalie needed to be at his best in this one as the Kings, who last played Saturday across town against the Islanders, seemed a step faster from the start and controlled play for most of the first two periods (see full recap).

Caps top 'Canes to extend point streak to 14 games
WASHINGTON -- Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored twice and the Washington Capitals kept the offense rolling to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Monday night and extend their point streak to 14 games.

Orlov doubled his goal output for the season and Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller also scored for the Capitals, who have won three in a row and haven't lost in regulation since Dec. 27. Washington scored on six of its 25 shots on Cam Ward and handed Carolina its fourth consecutive loss.

Braden Holtby made 25 saves for his 23rd victory of the season. The only goal he allowed came from Jordan Staal on the power play in the first period.

The Capitals allowed the first goal for the first time in 11 games but scored six unanswered to continue their winning ways. They've scored 44 goals in their past eight games (see full recap).

Kadri reaches 20 goals as Leafs beat Flames
TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri scored twice to tie his career high with 20 goals this season, Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a two-game winless streak with a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

Kadri beat Brian Elliott twice, and Andersen captured his second shutout as a Leaf.

Rookies Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman also scored for Toronto, which sits third in the Atlantic Division with 53 points.

Elliott gave up four goals on 28 shots, dropping his fourth consecutive start.

The Flames have lost three in a row and five of the past six. They are a point up on Vancouver for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference (see full recap).