This PSU hoops team finds themselves at an unusual crossroad. 4-8 in the Big Ten with six games remaining. This team could go any direction from this point. If it is possible for a 3-7 team to suffer a heart-breaking loss, than the last loss to Illinois was just that. This past win at Indiana is an equally surprising season-saving win for the 4-8 Nittany Lions. This team could run the table in the Big Ten, going 10-8 and securing an NCAA tourney spot or they could lose 6 in a row and fail miserably. Neither of those two scenarios are likely, but both are possible. It is more likely that something in the middle will unfold for this team. In the spirit of the 'choose your own adventure' story books, this post will allow the reader to skip around to the paragraph that most fits their expectations for this team.
If you expect this team to finish 5-13 in conference, continue to paragraph #2.
If you think this team will win two or three more Big Ten regular season games, skip forward to paragraph #3
If you ===>have no positive
expectations for this team moving forward, skip to paragraph #7
To explore the chances that this team has in making the NCAA Tournament skip forward to paragraph #4.
Should this PSU team finish the Big Ten regular season with only 5 wins, going 1-5 for the remaining games, that would be a major set-back for the program. There would be no post-season for this team after the Big Ten tourney. While this result is what many PSU hoops fans thought would be the most likely finish to this teams' season, with the surprising 4-2 run this team has recently put together, it would be a disappointment. In the process of losing these games however, it is likely that the younger players will begin getting significant minutes. For those people who are truly interested in watching this program develop, that is a fairly reasonable consolation prize for a disappointing finish to the season.
If you feel that this type of finish is likely, and it would make you regret watching the final 6 games of PSU's Big Ten season, skip to paragraph #7.
If you feel that watching this team finish 1-5 would be sad, but still worth doing since there is hope for any team on any given day, and that the games may still be entertaining, continue to paragraph #3.
So why would someone be interested in watching this PSU hoops team finish the last six games 2-4 or 3-3? That type of finish would rule out an NCAA tourney appearance sans a Big Ten tourney title. Well, one reason to watch PSU should they finish with two or three more Big Ten wins is that it would make it possible, however slightly, that this years' team could play in the NIT with a reasonable Big Ten tourney performance.
For those who feel that the team would still not make the NIT with 3 more wins in the Big Ten regular season, skip forward to paragraph #7
If you would like to entertain the idea of this team maybe out-performing previous expectations and winning 4 of the remaining 6 big ten games, continue to paragraph #4.
If you are a little slow on the uptake and need to re-start this journey, return to paragraph #1 and try to sound the words out as you go. Clap the syllables if that helps.
So how could this PSU team get to the NCAA tourney other than winning the Big Ten hoops tourney? The bidding (see what I did there) for PSU to make the big dance starts with an 8-10 Big Ten regular season finish. That would require this team to go on a 4-2 run to end the regular season. Unlikely, you think to yourself? This team is currently on a 4-2 win streak after starting 0-6. This current 4-2 streak included games at OSU, MSU, and Indiana...venues where we were supposed to lose all three games. There will be no challenges similar to these in the next 6 games. Be that as it may, every game will be tough from here to the finish. Last season two Big Ten teams danced with 8-10 records in conference. Those were teams that looked better than PSU would at 8-10, so it's not fair to say this team is a lock or even will be considered for an NCAA tourney birth at 8-10. To finish 8-10 would require at least one, most likely two wins in the Big Ten tourney in order to get an NCAA bid. The interesting thing about this scenario is that there is going to be some darn good 8-10 Big Ten teams this season. This may come down to the Big Ten tourney with two 8-10 teams facing one another knowing that if they lose they are out, if they win they have a chance. All that aside, 8-10 in the Big Ten will get this team to the NIT, hands down. That would be bonus PSU hoops games this season.
If watching this team finish 8-10 in the big ten, no matter the post-season outcome seems like it would be worth it, skip forward to paragraph #8
To see what would happen if this team goes 5-1 in the remaining 6 games, continue to paragraph #5
If you feel that 8-10 is not good enough for this team to make the NIT and that it would be a disappointment to watch under those conditions, skip to paragraph #7
Should PSU just about run the table for the final 6 games, dropping only one game, they would finish 9-9 in the Big Ten. You could argue either way, all ways, or both at the same time that 9-9 is not a good enough record to get an NCAA birth without at least one Big Ten tourney win. I would suggest that no team is safe to make the NCAA out of the Big Ten if they lose their first game in the Big Ten tourney. So that aside, it's my belief that only 5 teams in the Big Ten will finish 9-9 or better. That figure is a guess, but is seems likely. If you finish 9-9 you will set yourself apart from at least a couple of teams that may be considered for NCAA tourney bids.
To see what would happen if PSU were to run the table in the final 6 Big Ten games, or win the Big Ten tourney, continue to paragraph #6.
If this type of a finish would make this season a positive, memorable season, skip forward to paragraph #8
If you feel that there is no reason to hope for a miracle PSU finish to the season, skip forward to paragraph #7.
In fairness to those who are currently reading 1 Samuel 17 in the Bible but have not completed the entire story, or those who plan to read it in the future, this paragraph contains spoilers.
David defeated Goliath although the odds-makers had the line set at David +5 stones. Needing only one stone, David more than just covered the spread. Sometimes the bully goes home with a bloody nose or a stoned head. Most of the time the mountain that this team will face will appear to be insurmountable, a Goliath task. But this team has already shown that they can go to the home of Goliath, or Vonleh as he is called in modern times, and leave without a scratch on them. This is what it would be like were PSU to run the table, going 6-0, finishing 10-8 in the Big Ten. Same goes should this team get on a run in the Big Ten tourney and grab the automatic bid. It is unlikely. It would take an effort of biblical proportions. Were this to happen, the PSU hoops bandwagon would be over-flowed with happy newcomers. That's great, this team deserves the attention. It would be akin to the type of dream that you wake from and then try to go back to sleep to re-dream again. Reality would never be the same.
To finish your reading journey on a positive note, skip to paragraph #8
This team sucks, but we still really love PSU hoops. If only we could get a better coach, better fans, a more suitable stadium and better players. This team just needs to win more. There's no excuse for this team not being a contender, year in year out, and until they are the coach needs to be fiured every couple of years. Follow that by fiuring the athletic department leader guy for not giving PSU hoops enough stuff. A respected voice in this line of talk recently was overheard postulating, "....BIg BoY hoops is ===>not ChamBers" It used to take a great deal of effort to deliver a message in this format, the author having to obtain several different newspapers, patiently cutting out letters from titles and stories to form sentences, then gluing them on to a heavier piece of construction paper. Nowadays it can be done easily via the internet two or three times per minute.
This is where the journey concludes, but as always it has a Happy Valley ending. This team out-performed many expectations and has shown that there is reason for hope in the near future. Watching this team overcome the painful near-misses in the early season was rewarded with tangible success with honor. We made the post-season and did well once we got there. The future looks bright. Although the hoops season has just ended, we realize that it's April, and the Spring Game is just around the corner. This whole hoops whirlwind finish to the season has distracted us from the fact that the football off-season is more than half-over. For this hoops team the cup is better than half-full, it runneth overeth. We stare at the wall where our Pat Chambers Fathead poster is positioned on our bedroom wall and push play on the tape recorder that we used to dub a song off the radio in 1985. The white cassette inside the recorder says "Rick Springfield" on it but the tops of the cassette were taped over and it was re-used to capture a song by the band Survivor via the free, open radio waves sent nearly 30 years ago, "The Search Is Over'. Pat Chambers Fathead, we think to ourselves, I can see forever...the search is over, you were with me all the while.