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Penn State poised to topple surging Illini

The trap is set for the Illini.

Tuesday night’s loss at Purdue leaves Michigan State within striking distance. If Illinois wins out, it wins the Big Ten. Everyone knows it. So what are the Illini overlooking in this scenario, as they head into Wednesday 6 p.m. tip-off with Penn State?  Let’s hope hope it’s not the Nittany Lions.

Penn State is good. And they’re baiting the trap.

And while players like Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley are on everyone’s radar, Penn State doesn’t get the props its earned in going 18-8 overall, and 7-6 in the Big Ten.

Talor Battle is a pipsqueak who crashes the boards, and shoots the ball from Pittsburgh. He’s averaging under 40% from three, but if he stepped within the same county as the basket, that percentage would be higher. is a beast inside, averaging 15 and 7. But he can also hit from deep — 47% on the season. His bullish approach to the game will give fits to the toast rack Mikes, Davis and Tisdale. Maybe Wednesday night’s game will finally bring us a chance to see the brawny Richard Semrau. But don’t count on it. At Tuesday’s press conference, Illini coach Bruce Weber admitted that he doesn’t play enough guys. And when he mentioned someone who should play more, it was Bill Cole.

Weber acknowledges the two Penn State stars, but he’s also wary of Stanley Pringle.


Pringle is also known for jacking it from way out. And where the trap is concerned, Pringle is a master baiter. He leads Penn State with 36 steals on the year. But it’s Pringle’s hot hand offense that can really rub you the wrong way. Pringle pulls off an unbelieveable 48% percent from long.

If Illinois overlooks Pringle, he can take the job in hand. Beating Illinois at home is hard this year. But no one is better at performing a solo beating than Stanley Pringle, especially when it’s hard.  And Pringle prefers to whip out his best stuff away from home.

Stanley Pringle does it all by himself.

Even if Illinois isn’t looking past the Nittany Lions, this game is still a trap. Coach Ed DeChellis has not taken PSU to the NCAA in his five years at the helm. But they can almost smell an invitation. Beating Illinois at home would help. A lot.

If Cornley controls the inside, and Battle runs the offense precisely, that will create enough defensive problems for the Illini.  And that could leave Pringle all alone. Left alone, if there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s Stanley Pringle.

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