The Case For Penn State To Make The NCAA Tournament

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Penn State scored a dramatic and important victory at Northwestern on Wednesday night. Camren Wynter hit a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime to lift the Nittany Lions. And that shot should lift them right into the NCAA Tournament.

According to most “Bracketologists,” Penn State is not currently in the field of 68. But they should be. The Nittany Lions currently rank 56th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, well inside the Top 68.

They have four Quad 1 victories (4-7 in such games), including a road win against current #36 NET team Illinois. Plus, the aforementioned #46 Northwestern.

The Nittany Lions don’t have any “bad losses” — they’re undefeated in Quad 3 and Quad 4. Plus, they play in the loaded Big Ten that has eight or nine teams projected in the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State guard Jalen Pickett is one of the best players in the country and he deserves a chance to shine in the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State guard Jalen Pickett is one of the best players in the country and he deserves a chance to shine in the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

They have a stronger resume than conference rivals Michigan and Wisconsin. The Badgers beat the Lions twice, but rank just 75th in NET.

Penn State has a huge regular-season game remaining at home against #25 (NET) Maryland. A win in that game should assure the Lions reach The Dance.

The Lions are also getting hot at the right time, having won four of their past five games with three coming on the road.

The Big Ten tournament will settle a lot of debate, but the feeling is that Penn State is going to need a couple victories to secure their spot.

Penn State has the star power and long-distance shooting that the NCAA Tournament needs

But don’t forget that the NCAA Tournament is an entertainment spectacle. People want to see stars on the big stage, and Penn State has a legitimate star in Jalen Pickett.

Pickett averages over 18 points per game, and is the only player in the country averaging over 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds per game.

Penn State is a team that other schools are not going to want to face in late March. They are tied with Cornell for the third-most three-pointers made per game at 10.8 in the entire NCAA (352 schools). The Lions shoot 39% from three, good for 10th best in the nation.

The hope for other teams is that the Lions are left out on Selection Sunday.

But they shouldn’t be. And they’ll be dangerous WHEN they get there.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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