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March Madness has begun, baby! I wrote this week that Penn State is an NCAA Tournament team, regardless of what happened Sunday.
But what happened Sunday should remove all doubt. Hosting No. 21 Maryland, the Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, by 13 points at halftime and by 11 points with five minutes left.
Despite the deficits, the Lions went on a crazy run at the end of the game, scoring 17 points in the final five minutes. They held Maryland to just five over the same stretch.
Penn State took a 63-62 lead with 43 seconds left, their first since the middle of the first half.
However, on the ensuing possession, Maryland regained the lead. With just 20 seconds left, State needed a bucket to win.
But with five seconds left, Seth Lundy hoisted a 3-point attempt that clanked off the rim and headed right toward three Maryland defenders. But, one seemingly knocked the ball out of the hands of another and right to Lions’ senior Camren Wynter.
Wynter, who hit the game-winning three against Northwestern on Thursday, played hero again. He laid the ball up-and-in for the score as time seemingly expired.
The referees added a half-second to the clock, but Maryland’s desperation downcourt pass fell into the hands of the Nittany Lions, who emerged victorious.
Penn State cements status as 2023 NCAA Tournament team
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi (aka Joey “Brackets”) Penn State was the “last team in” the field as of Sunday morning.
With the win over a ranked opponent, especially one in which they trailed heavily, it should push the Lions ahead of a couple teams.
Plus, the victory assured Penn State a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament (as the No. 10 seed), which begins Wednesday.
Maryland entered Sunday as the No. 26 team in the NCAA’s NET ranking, giving Penn State another Quad 1 victory for their resume.
Penn State is a 2023 NCAA Tournament team, but we will have to wait until next Sunday for the official word.
Leaving out the Lions would be a travesty.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ