The college basketball regular season has officially come to an end, meaning the Nittany Lions now have a shot at hanging a banner. Penn State basketball (19-12, 10-10 Big Ten) is coming off of a massive 16-point comeback victory over No. 21 Maryland at the Bryce-Jordan Center last Sunday afternoon. Here is how the Penn State Nittany Lions could win the Big Ten tournament before the big dance later this month.
Penn State will start the BTT as a No. 10 seed after finishing .500 in conference play this year.
Penn State basketball has a shot at the Big Ten title
Throw everything out the window, Penn State basketball fans, it’s finally tournament time. In these single-elimination matchups, anyone can beat anyone (especially in the Big Ten), so it’s impossible to tell how any team will do. Still, let’s look at Penn State’s path to a Big Ten title banner in the conference tournament. The Nittany Lions have likely already done enough to make the NCAA tournament and break the program’s tournament drought, yet a few extra wins wouldn’t hurt.
Nittany Lions to start against Illinois
Penn State basketball earned a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament, meaning the Nittany Lions will need to win four games to hang a Big Ten title banner. To kick things off, Penn State will face the Illinois Fighting Illini (20-11, 11-9), who they are 2-0 against this season. If the Nittany Lions can knock off Illinois a third time in a row, Penn State will head to the second round to face Northwestern.
Penn State’s next challenges
If Penn State basketball gets past Illinois, the Northwestern Wildcats (21-10, 12-8 Big Ten) will be waiting for them in round three of the tournament. The Lions and Wildcats have played each other once this season — Penn State won an overtime thriller in Evanston, 68-65 at the buzzer. If the Nittany Lions start the Big Ten tournament 2-0, they’ll face one of the following in the semifinals: Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland.
The good news for Penn State basketball is that most of the teams that are a huge threat to the Nittany Lions are in the other bracket. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan State, and more will only be put against Penn State if they meet in the championship game, so there’s a real shot that PSU does some damage or wins it all.
This tournament is not the end-all be-all for Penn State basketball, but winning the Big Ten tournament would be a giant leap for Micah Shrewsberry’s team, especially as we head into the NCAA tournament in a few short weeks.
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