It’s a question that comes up each year for any team that comes up just short of the Big Dance before finding success in the NIT: Would you rather win the NIT Championship, or be one of 36 teams that have an early exit from the NCAA Tournament?
While it’s hard to argue against a spot in the NCAA Tournament, which is the complete focus of the regular season as teams attempt to move off the bubble to secure a spot, I will say this much- it sure was enjoyable to watch Penn State Basketball play late into March. Had they lost in the first round, the 2017-2018 season would already be a distant memory as we turn our attention to spring practice and whether or not Tony Carr will be suiting up for the Nittany Lions next season. We got to enjoy a thrilling ending to the Temple game (which admittedly, was a deplorable performance for the first 38 minutes), before a string of impressive, and at many times dominant, victories against Notre Dame, Marquette, Mississippi State and Utah.
The extended postseason run also showed that this team can aspire to greater things next season. The Nittany Lions looked like a tournament team through parts of the regular season, but always seemed to fall to earth with any setback. They finally shook this off during the NIT, playing their best stretch of basketball without the services of All-Big Ten Defensive Team member Mike Watkins and key reserve Nazeer Bostick. There’s little doubt that the extra time together competing in the NIT can play a major factor in the success of the program moving forward.
So what say you, BSD reader? Would you rather take the NIT Championship, or would you trade it all for the experience of playing in the NCAA Championship for one game?