Penn State entered the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 7 seed, finishing the regular season with a 19-12 record and went 9-9 in conference play.
As the No. 7 seed, the Nittany Lions faced No. 10 Northwestern — after a first-round bye — and defeated the Wildcats by 8 points. In the team’s second game, Penn State got its third chance at beating Ohio State — which is clearly an NCAA Tournament team — and succeeded, beating the Buckeyes by 1 point.
On Saturday, in the semifinal round, Penn State had another opportunity to pick up a huge win against a team that is NCAA Tournament-bound in Purdue. The Nittany Lions’ run came to an end, however, as they lost to the Boilermakers, 78-70.
Prior to the team’s loss to Purdue, Penn State was regarded as one of the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
@ESPNLunardi PSU back on bubble with third win over OSU or do they need to win the Big Ten Tourney?
— Scott Stuck (@drscottstuck) March 3, 2018
First Four Out https://t.co/B7bO8Az60t
— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) March 3, 2018
If Lunardi says that Penn State is out, then that is more than likely the case. Lunardi and other bracketologists aren’t perfect, but they are good at what they do. CBS’ Jerry Palm also had Penn State as out of the tournament prior to the team’s loss on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions owned the Buckeyes this season by winning all three matchups. And, while those are all impressive wins, the team doesn’t have another win against a ranked opponent this season.
Penn State may have the look of an NCAA Tournament-worthy team — especially considering that forward Mike Watkins was out with an injury for its Big Ten Tournament run — but the resumé is what the NCAA selection committee will scrutinize most.
And, unfortunately, the last impression the Nittany Lions made before the final bracket is revealed will be an 8-point loss to Purdue.