I’ve seen a lot of incompetent basketball from this program over the years, so it’s hard not to be excited about PSU’s 15-5 record. That gaudy record is so impressive, PSU’s apathetic fanbase is starting to take notice. It has generated some discussion about the inevitable college basketball question that everyone fan wants to know – are we going to make the Big Dance?
I would love nothing more than to see Jamelle Cornley and Danny Morrissey get their shot on the Big Stage in their final year of eligibility. Those guys have put up with so much losing in front of an empty arena, they deserve it. Jamelle has already become one of my all-time PSU favorites, alongside my man JC3. Only Jamelle can tell you how many times he’s been confused for a football player on this campus, from random students to Joe Paterno himself. But with the 327th WORST non-conference schedule in the land (by far the worst schedule out of anyone in the big 6 conferences), PSU is nowhere close (yet) to being a bubble team. Forget what you heard about all those early bracket projections that are coming out now with PSU as a bubble team. We are straight NIT material until the team proves otherwise. Here’s how PSU’s chances shape up…
- If PSU finishes 9-9 in the conference, forget about it. They’ll have to win the BTT to dance.
- If PSU finishes 10-8 in the conference, they would have to make at least the finals of the BTT to just be in the discussion.
- PSU will have to finish 11-7 in conference to legitimately enter the discussion. Their RPI will still be in the 50s, but with the strength of the conference, 9 Big Ten wins will be impressive (Indiana wins don’t count). They’ll have to avoid a first round exit in the Big Ten Tournament.
- 12-6 should be a lock
For more emphasis on how bad PSU’s non-con was, look below. RPI numbers from here.
|William & Mary||239|
|Mt. St. Mary’s||144|
There’s nothing impressive with only two top-100 teams (both losses) and only four top-200 teams. That’s beyond embarrassing and it’s completely absurd. Not all of it is PSU’s fault. Having a few cupcakes on the schedule is not a big deal. NJIT and Hartford were preliminary games in the Philly Classic. PSU also blew their chance at #31 Villanova at the tournament and ended up facing Towson instead. William and Mary and Georgia Tech have been disappointments so far compared to their expectations coming into the season. Penn was an OK road game. But why Army, Lafayette, Sacred Heart, and New Hampshire were scheduled is beyond me. Replace those 4 with say Duquesne, East Tennessee State, St. Bonaventure, and Buffalo, and I’d be all about the NCAA tournament right now.
But PSU is going to have to deal with what we gave ourselves when this schedule was constructed. Just check out RPIForecast’s projection for PSU. They give PSU an 8% chance of finishing 11-7 in conference or higher. If PSU goes 10-8, our RPI is projected at 60. That’s not going to get us in, so the NCAA talk should take a back seat. Especially when you look at PSU’s upcoming February schedule…
|@ Michigan State||8|
|@ Ohio State||24|
That’s a pretty damn tough stretch. If PSU is legit, I can see them going 4-3 (@UM, Wis, MN, @OSU). Frankly, I don’t know too much about this PSU team yet. I know we have 2 first team all-conference candidates, but as far as team success? I know we can’t shoot foul shots. I know PSU barely beat a 9-9 Georgia Tech team on the road by 2 (they’re now 0-5 in the ACC). I know PSU beat a UM team that has looked a lot more like the team that barely beat Savannah State than the team that beat UCLA and Duke. I know PSU barely beat a Purdue squad who not only was struggling at the time, but was also without their two best players. Like David Jones says, sometimes the game outcomes result from when you played and not who you played.
If PSU enters their home game with Indiana on Feb. 28 at 9-6 or even 8-7 in the conference, then the NCAA talks should start up. If we finish at a far more probable 7-8, we’ll be NIT bound unless we can have a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament. I’m glad that this team is generating interest and a fanbase for this season, but fact’s are facts. This team has a huge mountain to climb if we want to go dancing. A lot of PSU basketball trends over the years will have to be broken (like win some league games on the road).