Heading into the season, many fans were hopeful that the Penn State Basketball team would make their first NCAA tournament in 12 years. With just 12 games left in the regular season, let’s check in on how the Nittany Lions are doing.
After Penn State’s victory over Nebraska on Saturday, the team has a 13-6 overall record and is 4-4 in conference play. This has them hovering right around the bubble for most tournament projections.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Penn State Basketball as one of the first four out on his latest installment Friday. It is important to note that this update occurred before the victory over Nebraska.
Fox Sports’ Andy Katz has Penn State Basketball on the good side of the cutoff line but notes the difficult schedule remaining for the team. Seven of the remaining twelve games will take place on the road, including a trip to current #1 Purdue.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm also has Penn State Basketball making the tournament. They are currently listed as one of his last four in teams.
Ultimately, the final twelve game stretch will determine whether or not Penn State Basketball makes the tournament. Playing well could result in the team making the tournament and avoid being on bubble watch come Selection Sunday. Play poorly and, well, it’ll be another year added to the postseason drought.
Thankfully, it will not take long for Penn State Basketball to have another shot at getting an important Quad-1 win. Penn State Basketball takes on Rutgers in Piscataway on Tuesday. Rutgers was previously ranked in the top-25 before they suffered a loss to Michigan State this past week. Things will not be easy on Tuesday as the RAC is one of the harder venues in the Big Ten to play at.
Call me an optimist, but I do believe our Nittany Lions will break the streak and make the NCAA tournament. It won’t be easy, and I imagine we will be on bubble watch for the remainder of the season, but we should be hearing good news come Selection Sunday.
Even if Penn State Basketball loses their two most difficult remaining games (@ Rutgers, @ Purdue), the rest of the schedule is manageable. The team has shown that when they play well, they can compete with just about anyone. The biggest game left on the schedule will be against Michigan inside the BJC on January 29th. This is a home game sandwiched in between the two challenging road games and will be important for the team to win to avoid a three-game losing skid. Penn State already proved they can hang with Michigan when they lost a competitive game in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.
This upcoming three game stretch will be the toughest the team faces all year, and we should have a much better understanding of our tournament chances this time next week. I believe this team would be a perfect underdog for the tournament with how hot they can get from the three-point line. Coach Micah Shrewsberry has done a great job turning this program around quickly, and I urge everyone to show their support and make the BJC a raucous home environment for the Michigan game next Sunday.