Penn State has rarely been known for its basketball program.
The Nittany Lions have recruited well in the last few years and they are just three years removed from a NIT Championship.
Penn State had a big question mark attached to it this season because it entered with a new head coach in Micah Shrewsbury.
In just five games, Penn State's developed a clear basketball identity and it will be hard to beat in any matchup. Just ask LSU how difficult it was to beat the Nittany Lions on Friday in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Penn State lost the battle with LSU in overtime last night, but it has a chance to bounce back in the consolation game of the Emerald Coast Classic on Saturday.
Below is a look at Penn State and two other early plays for the college hoops card. More plays will follow later for the night games.
CBB Saturday Picks
Overall Record: 31-38
Monmouth at Cincinnati (Under 141.5) (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Cincinnati has quickly developed a defensive identity under new head coach Wes Miller.
The Bearcats conceded more than 70 points on one occasion, and in that game, Arkansas struggled to reach that mark. The Razorbacks scored 73 points on Tuesday.
Monmouth is a solid team out of the MAAC, but it has not played a team of Cincinnati's defensive caliber yet.
The Bearcats rank in the top 15 on KenPom in defensive effective field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and two-point percentage.
UMBC at Pittsburgh (-5.5) (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Pittsburgh has oddly become a team I can't quit early in the season.
It is most likely because of the low spreads in carries in its favor against mid-major teams, like UMBC.
Pittsburgh is coming off a double-digit loss to Vanderbilt and it has really bad offensive metrics, but UMBC struggled on the road to start the season.
The Retrievers lost to UMass and Longwood by double figures in their two true road tests.
Pittsburgh is the target here for a bounce-back spot against a bad road team.
Penn State (-1.5) vs. Oregon State (4 p.m., ET)
I was really impressed with Penn State and how it fought against LSU in an overtime loss on Friday.
Sam Sessoms has improved in the scoring department to give the Nittany Lions a potent offense with him and Seth Lundy at the forefront.
Oregon State is 1-5 and is coming off an overtime loss of its own to Wake Forest. The Beavers were down 19 points at halftime, rallied back to force overtime and then lost in the extra period.
Penn State was the more consistent team yesterday and that's why I'm trusting the Big Ten side here.
Denver at Utah Valley (-10.5) (5 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Utah Valley has three double-digit victories in its last four games.
The Wolverines average over 10 points per game more than Denver and it pulls down 10.5 more rebounds per contest. Denver ranks 339th in offensive rebounding on KenPom. Utah Valley is 18th in that category. That should be the difference-maker.
Eastern Washington at Washington State (-19.5) (7:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
The Eastern Washington team that captured our attention against Kansas in the NCAA tournament doesn't exist anymore.
The Eagles underwent a major roster transformation and it may take some time for them to get everything clicking again.
Washington State is a team I can't get on the right side of, but I think this is the perfect spot to win with the Cougars.
Wazzu ranks in the Top 20 on KenPom in effective field-goal percentage, offensive rebounding and two-point percentage. I think we see a big offensive game from the Cougars.
UC Irvine at Santa Clara (-3.5) (7:30 p.m. ET)
Santa Clara has been one of the pleasant surprises of the young season.
The Broncos are 5-1 and they rank in the Top 20 in effective field-goal percentage, three-point and two-point percentage on KenPom.
UC Irvine should provide a tough test for Santa Clara. The Anteaters rank fourth in defensive three-point percentage and 18th in defensive two-point percentage.
The difference here is free-throw shooting. Santa Clara ranks 38th on KenPom in offensive free-throw percentage. UC Irvine is 350th in defensive free-throw percentage.
UT Arlington at Utah State (-15.5) (9 p.m. ET)
Utah State already has nonconference wins over Richmond and Oklahoma.
The Aggies face a fairly easy game against UT-Arlington before a tough two-game stretch against Saint Mary's and BYU to start December.
Utah State's Justin Bean is the player to watch in this game. Bean averages 24 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.