On Sunday, Penn State entered its regular season finale against Nebraska with a 19-11 overall record.
The Nittany Lions had the opportunity to get win number 20, which may not mean the world, but it means something to an NCAA selection committee made up of humans and not computers.
Nebraska, who had the home-court advantage, however, came out on top with its 76-64 victory against Penn State.
At 19-12 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten play, the Nittany Lions should assume that they are on the outside of the bubble and looking in. The 19-win mark is rarely enough to make the NCAA Tournament in the first place and going .500 in the Big Ten this year may not look as OK as it does in typical years.
In ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket — on Feb. 22 — the Big Ten only had four teams in the field of 68. Of Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten had the fewest amount of teams to make it if Lunardi’s bracket turned out to be perfect.
Penn State going into the weekend — according to Lunardi — was one of the first four teams out of the tournament. By losing to Nebraska, that only hurts the team’s case. Especially when considering that Nebraska is also considered to be a bubble team.
Looking at last season, every Big Ten team that went 10-8 or better in conference play during the regular season made the NCAA Tournament outside of Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished at 10-8, but were 19-15 overall. Penn State’s 19-12 mark is better, but its 9-9 record leaves something to be desired.
Penn State is the No. 7 seed for the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions get No. 10 Northwestern in the first round. If Penn State wins, it faces off against No. 3 Purdue. The Nittany Lions might need a tournament run to the final to have a chance for an at-large. But by that point, Penn State might as well just win the automatic bid.
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