Penn State Basketball

What Penn State Basketball Must Do in Big Ten Tournament to Make NCAA Tournament

Penn State Basketball is on the precipice of making the NCAA Tournament for just the third time this millennium.

Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but technically it’s accurate.
The Nittany Lions made the Sweet Sixteen in 2001 as a No. 7 seed, and last danced in 2011 as a No. 10 seed.  Of course, Penn State Basketball certainly would have danced in 2020 if not for an international pandemic.
As the Big Ten Tournament kick-offs for Penn State Thursday, most bracketology prognostications have the Nittany Lions IN the NCAA Tournament.
For example,  Bracket Matrix, which combines many bracketologists, lists Penn State Basketball as the last team in the tournament going into the day. Perhaps more importantly, however, Penn State is IN 86 of the 94 brackets in the matrix, which is more than fellow bubble teams in the bracket (Pittsburgh – 76, Rutgers – 73, Utah State 72).


Those teams are ahead of Penn State when factoring in assigned seeds, but either way, the Nittany Lions are currently sitting in before they kickoff the Big Ten Tournament.
Utah State, Rutgers, Nevada and Mississippi State all start their tournaments Thursday as well.
Pittsburgh won their opening game yesterday but the key result for Penn State was fellow Big Ten Conference mate Wisconsin lost their opening round game to Ohio State.
Despite owning a season sweep over us, the Badgers likely seem destined to the NIT.

How does Penn State Basketball Lock Up an NCAA Tourney berth?

So, what does Penn State need to do?  WIN THURSDAY.
It’s really that simple.
Could Penn State make the NCAA Tournament with a loss?  Sure.  It’s possible. But, it won’t make for a fun few days as we root against the Aggies, Wolfpack, Scarlet Knights, etc. to have a chance.
Bart Torvik, a college basketball analytics expert, currently lists Penn State’s chances of making the big dance at 52%.
With a win Thursday over Illinois, that number rises above 70% but a loss pushes it down below 30%.  While it may seem Penn State may be safe right now, the only way to be sure is to beat Illinois today at 6:30 pm.
Win and in.  Let’s go.

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