How many times have the Nittany Lions blown double digit leads this year? Four? Five? The correct answer is too many.
The Lions jumped out to a 17-5 lead against the Hoosiers. Then it was a tale of two teams. One team calm and collected playing defense, hitting their shots and chipping away. The other team playing not to lose. Tight. Indecisive. Unaggressive. Penn State just plain got out hustled on the boards today. Indiana recorded 18 offensive rebounds and turned most of them into points. Are you sensing the frustration in my voice yet?
All day long the Lions had no idea where Roderick Wilmont was on the court. He kept getting open and kept hitting shots draining 7-of-17 from behind the arc for a career high 25 points. In his last five games he only totaled 32 points.
It's time we addressed a few realities. We have some guys on this team that can play. Claxton and Cornley are studs. Each scored 17 points today. Danny Morrissey is a pretty good shooting guard. After that there's nothing. Luber, Hassell, Mooch, and Bogetic would all be great players in the Patriot League, but this is the Big Ten.
This season is thisclose to being lost. These last two games hurt and hurt bad. Purdue and Indiana are middle-of-the-pack teams this year. Good teams win those games, especially at home. We dropped both of them. With 13 games to go things are not looking good for Penn State. They still have four games to play against Ohio State and Wisconsin. They have seven games on the road where they have not won a game this season.
You have to figure the Lions probably have to get to at least 19 wins to make the NCAA tournament. I would bet my house on Temple winning the BCS next year before I bet on the Lions going 9-4 the rest of the way. The NIT tournament is still not out of the question yet. Realistically they probably need six more wins. The home games against Purdue, Illinois, and Iowa along with the road game to Northwestern are now must wins. Then they will have to pull a win or two out of their asses somewhere. It's not going to be easy.
The Lions get their first shot at one of those improbable wins when they travel to Michigan to play the Wolverines on Wednesday. Michigan is 14-3 and trailing Purdue 59-48 as I write this.