Penn State secures No. 11 seed in Big Ten Tournament with win in regular-season finale

The Penn State Nittany Lions ended the regular season on a high note with a home win over Maryland, but it wasn't enough to avoid the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Penn State Nittany Lions guard/forward Puff Johnson
Penn State Nittany Lions guard/forward Puff Johnson / Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Micah Shrewsberry led Penn State to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game against Purdue as the No. 10 seed. That run secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the Nittany Lions and this year, if Mike Rhoades wants to take Penn State back to the big dance, he’ll need to do it with a similar run, but as the 11th seed in the conference. 

While it’s just one spot, there’s a crucial difference between finishing 10th and 11th in the Big Ten regular season. Despite beating Maryland 85-69 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday night behind 17 points and 11 assists from Ace Baldwin Jr. the 15-16 (9-11) Nittany Lions will be forced to play in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament against No. 14 Michigan, one of just four teams that didn’t receive a first-round bye. 

Rhoades’s opportunity to avoid the dreaded first round of the tournament came last Saturday when Penn State fell 75-70 to Minnesota, not last night. The Golden Gophers also finished 9-11 in conference play, but by virtue of that tiebreaker, earned the 10th seed in the tournament. Minnesota will play No. 7 Indiana in the second round. 

By the time Penn State’s regular-season finale tipped off, its fate was all but sealed, however, the win meant a matchup with the 8-23 (3-17) Wolverines instead of 15-16 (7-13) Rutgers. 

Penn State’s win-or-go-home game will tip-off on Wednesday, March 23 at the Target Center in Minneapolis Minnesota, 25 minutes after the conclusion of Maryland and Rutgers.

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