Buckle your seat belts.
The Nits are 8-5, and are staring a horrible matchup with Wisconsin square in the eye at the Jordan Center Sunday afternoon. You're probably sitting there right now youtubing (yeah, I said it, wut?) some Talor Battle clips from last season, and wondering if you could possibly be convinced to care about the NIT for a second consecutive season.
But are things ever that simple with this basketball team?
Look, it's easy to view this team with a cynical eye. It's possible that JoePa's hips rotate better than our defense. We give up way too many offensive boards to opponents that aren't particualrly bigger than we are, and we appear to believe that our point guard hitting 60-footers is normal.
But all is not lost.
The truth is we probably weren't going to walk into the Barn and win. It's a tough place to play, and along with the Kohl Center, has probably been even tougher than average for this team in recent years. A 5-point loss in that building, and a rally from an 11 point deficit is an effort I'm relatively proud of at this point.
Here's what we're looking at in my opinion the rest of the way:
Probable wins: Michigan, at Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern
Probably losses: Wisconsin, at Wisconsin, at Purdue, Michigan St., at Michigan St.
Up For Grabs: At Illinois, Illinois, at Ohio St., Minnesota, at Northwestern, at Michigan, Ohio St.
I tend to look at 10 losses as the cutoff for the NCAA tournament. It's unscientific, and we've seen 11+ loss teams get at-larges before, but the chances of the Nits getting one with this schedule are pretty remote, so with that in mind, the Nits need to go 12-5 or better to have a realistic shot at the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, that's probably more than we can hope for, but an NIT berth with a high seed is well within this teams grasp if it can go even .500 in those "Up For Grabs" games.
Maybe this team has some magic in it. But more than likely we're looking at a team trying to put together some momentum heading into 2010-2011, when it will lose almost nothing, and have an entire year's experience under it's belt, and a heavily veteran, senior laden team.
No matter what, though, if the Big 10 season is near as exciting as the game tonight was, it's going to be a fun winter. Keep the faith. We Are Penn State.