Penn State hockey is likely to make program history. A spot in the NCAA Division I Tournament is close to becoming a certainty.
The Nittany Lions rank No. 9 in the PairWise Rankings — a safe spot to be ahead of the upcoming 16-team NCAA Tournament. Denver is No. 1 in the PairWise rankings while defending champion North Dakota is 16th. The Nittany Lions can earn a spot with a conference tournament title, but the top-10 ranking in PairWise has Penn State in great shape.
At 20-8-2, Penn State is nearing its first NCAA Tournament bid and is probably only a couple of wins away from feeling more than safe. The Nittany Lions play at home against Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday and then visit Michigan the following week. The Big Ten Tournament then starts Thursday, March 16 in Detroit with the quarterfinals.
It’s already been an memorable season for the Nittany Lions. The fast-rising program, in just its fifth season playing Division I, ranked No. 1 earlier this year in USCHO.com’s poll. It was the first time the men’s hockey program reached No. 1.
Penn State hockey
— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) January 16, 2017
The Nittany Lions slumped against Ohio State, Princeton and Minnesota, but Penn State also swept Wisconsin and Michigan State. If the Nittany Lions sweep the Badgers this weekend, they would jump Wisconsin for second in the Big Ten behind Minnesota. The Gophers rank No. 4 in the PairWise Rankings.