Nittany Lions Still Have Work to Do in Big Ten Tournament

Geoffrey AmesContributor IMarch 13, 2009

After suffering a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes to end the regular season, the Penn State Nittany Lions’ basketball team bounced back yesterday and delivered a beat down to the lowly Indiana Hoosiers 66-51 to start off the Big Ten Tournament right.

A lot of fans may be satisfied that this win would be enough to put the Lions into the NCAA tournament, no further work needed.

A win against the worst team in the conference is going to put them over the top? I don’t think so. 

It is my belief that this team needs to take it out of the selection committee’s hands as much as possible. 

In short, this means that Penn State need to play tough tonight against a Purdue team that is currently ranked, but struggling as of late. 

Although these teams split the season series, each winning at home, Purdue was missing two of its key players, including Robbie Hummel, when the Lions won at University Park.  Also, in the second meeting in West Lafayette, the Lions were blown out by 14 points. 

For those who are willing to rest on their current resume, I’d like you to see what I see. 

Their RPI is currently 66 and dropping; hardly a number that will assure them of inclusion.  Combine that with a very weak out-of-conference schedule that was ranked number 311 in the country, and you can see why there are still doubters. 

This is all without mentioning their strength of schedule, which is 98th overall. 

I do see a lot of positives that are working in the Lions’ favor, such as quality victories over the RPI top 50 and bubble teams losing.  However, it would be my preference that this team makes a deep run in the conference tournament, leaving no doubt they belong in the field of 65.