Penn State set a record and just may have punched their tournament ticket all in one night, although that doesn’t mean Nittany Lion fans will be celebrating. Penn State beat Wisconsin to advance in the Big 10 tournament by a score of 36-33. That’s no joke. That was the score. At the end of the game. Really.
Penn State went into the locker room with a 20-16 lead and the two teams would combine for just 33 points in the second half. To say it was an ugly game is an understatement to say the least. Penn State shot just 33.3% from the floor, which was only slightly better than the 29.4% the Badgers shot. No Nittany Lion even score in double figures with Talor Battle leading the way with 9. They didn’t get a single point from their bench.
The question is what if anything the win means for Penn State’s tournament chances? Coming into the Big 10 tourney they were on the very outside of the bubble needing a strong run to get into the dance. Well, a trip to the semifinals qualifies as a pretty strong run. As Black Shoe Diaries noted today, Penn State’s tournament resume had one major hole.
At this point, the Lions’ resume is pretty complete. It boasts solid RPI and Strength of Schedule numbers and has enough quality wins to wow the selection committee. The glaring hole is the lack of a big road/neutral site win, and should Penn State achieved on against the No. 13 Badgers on Friday, it will have gone a long way toward filling it.
They got the win and the hole is filled, but does that mean they’ll go dancing? Nothing is guaranteed yet, but a win over Michigan State tomorrow in the semifinals just might do the trick.