While the Big Ten schedule is still a few weeks from being released, Penn State fans got a glimpse at the 2011-12 Big Ten basketball season with the release of the single-plays conference wide. As the name suggests ”single-plays” are teams that a given Big Ten program will only play once over the course of the season rather than the traditional home and away matchup. Last season the Nittany Lions only played Iowa and Indiana once, arguably costing Penn State two potential victories. This season however it looks as though a young Nittany Lions squad will be able to avoid the bulk of the Big Ten powers while playing teams like Indiana, Northwestern, and Iowa twice.
The four single-plays on the Nittany Lion’s schedule are as follows:
- Home: Illinois and Minnesota
- Away: Ohio State and Michigan State
At first glance this seems to be more of a positive for Penn State fans than a negative. While the Jordan Center will avoid hosting a few big name teams and a traditional throwdown with Michigan State, the fact a young squad can avoid two games against four of the stronger programs in the conference could bode well for a rebuilding year and Pat Chambers’ first year as head coach.
On the other side of the coin is the lack of big games that Penn State can possibly win. With only one game against these four traditional teams, the Nittany Lions will need to make the most of their opportunities if the season is going well. While it seems more likely that an NCAA bid is a bit of a reach for the 2011-12 season, the campaign could turn out better than most people expect if the non-conference schedule plays out ok. That will make games against each of these single-plays that much more important if the Nittany Lions are looking to make any sort of postseason birth.