Following on the heels of last night’s news that Albany would be replacing Marist as Penn State’s season opening opponent, it was learned via Jon Rothstein on Twitter this morning that the Nittany Lions will take on St. John’s at the world famous Madison Square Garden on December 18th as part of MSG’s Holiday Festival:
St. John’s struggled mightily last year (8-24 overall, 1-17 in the Big East), but they were going through a transition period with first-timer head coach (and NBA legend) Chris Mullin having to rely on underclassmen and being without prized point guard recruit Marcus LoVett, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA last year, but will be eligible to play this year. Not to mention the fact that Mullin has reeled in a few solid 4-star recruits to join this year’s team in combo guard Shamorie Ponds and forwards Bashir Ahmed and Richard Freudenberg.
Needless to say, this is another huge win for the scheduling department in the Penn State hoops program, in addition to the news of swapping Marist for Albany, the non-conference slate as it currently stands reads like that of a team that thinks it can potentially push for an NCAA Tournament bid. Whether PSU actually does end up doing so remains to be seen, but it does seem clear at this point that Pat Chambers thinks very highly of his current roster and wants them to get challenged early and often before the Big Ten slate hits them.
With nine non-conference games already on the books, there are only four slots left to fill on the non-conference slate (PSU typically plays 13 non-conference games in a season). Look for those slots to be filled with mid/low-major opponents who while they fall in the ‘should win’ category, won’t be complete RPI killers.
Below, is the updated schedule:
|Penn State Basketball 2016-17 Schedule|
|11/19||Duke (Neutral Site)|
|11/20||Cincinnati/Rhode Island (Neutral Site)|
|11/29||Georgia Tech (B1G/ACC Challenge)|
|12/10||Pitt (Neutral Site)|
|12/18||St. John's (Neutral Site)|
|TBD||@ George Washington|
Also, in case you’ve forgotten what happened the last time PSU came away from the Garden victorious, here’s a couple of visual reminders: