While yesterday was an absolutely horrible day for Philly sports teams, at least Penn State students and alum had something to cheer for. For the first time in school history, the Nittany Lions men's basketball team advanced to the Big Ten Tournament Final, and did so with a convincing 61-48 win over Michigan State. With that upset victory, 19-13 PSU may have earned the right to go dancing for the first time in 10 years.
Of course, they could make it official with another W today. All they need to do to grab their first ever Big Ten Championship is topple the number one team in the country, Ohio State.
The top ranked Buckeyes won both this season's previous meetings against Penn St., rolling 82-61 in their most recent tilt. The Lions were almost able to steal one back in January however, hanging tough for 40 minutes, but ultimately falling in the final seconds 69-66.
All things considered, it's amazing to even find the program in this position so late in the year. During yesterday's broadcast, the announcers noted PSU has been the lowest seed in the conference tournament six times in 14 years. Needless to say, it's not often the basketball team is worthy of this kind of attention.
2010-11 has been a different kind of season. Win or lose today, the Lions deserve some serious consideration for March Madness, if they haven't punched their ticket already. With the #40 RPI and sixth toughest strength of schedule in the nation, plus four wins against top 25 teams—MSU, Illinois, and Wisconsin twice—PSU would be a very deserving addition to the tournament regardless.
Besides making the selection process a formality, a win today would have the added bonus of being a setback for Ohio State, one that at the very least could cost them the top seed overall in the tournament.
Not that Penn State needs any extra incentive today. The opportunity to bring a Big Ten Championship back to Happy Valley, and guarantee the school's first spot in the dance since 2001 is plenty. Tip is at 3:30 on CBS, so best get those Are U Hungry orders in soon.