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Here’s What Life Was Like The Last Time Penn State Basketball Was Ranked

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Things sure have changed since the last time the program was ranked.

Pete Lisicky
Pete Lisicky was lighting it up from three-point range the last time Penn State hoops was ranked

With Penn State’s men’s basketball team achieving their No. 23 ranking in the latest AP college basketball poll, it marks the first time since 1996 that the Nittany Lions have appeared in said poll. PSU started out the 1995-96 season winning their first 13 games, being ranked as high as ninth, putting them ahead of traditional powerhouses such as Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse, to name a few. It was also midway through that season in which PSU moved from Rec Hall to the Bryce Jordan Center, which thankfully, YouTube has a clip from the very first game ever played there:

First-year head coach Jerry Dunn’s squad would go on to finish 18th in the Final AP poll on March 12th, 1996 sporting a 21-6 overall, 13-5 Big Ten record (good enough for second place in the Big Ten), before bowing out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed to the 12th-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks, thanks to Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” giving the Lions all sorts of problems.

Needless to say, the world has changed quite a bit since the last time the Penn State fan base got to enjoy a ranked basketball team. Here’s a brief glimpse into what else was happening back in 1996:

  • The Number One Song on the Billboard Top 100 charts the week PSU was last ranked was “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.
  • Elsewhere in the music world, the “Macarena” swept everyone by storm (and led to some of the most cringe-worthy moments of white people dancing that the planet has ever seen) and Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas (RIP).
  • Bill Clinton was President of the United States. He would go on to be re-elected to a second term in November of that year.
  • Ted Kaczynski (aka “The Unabomber”) was arrested in his cabin in the Montana woods in April, after his 50,000-word manifesto was published. This later led to one of the more underrated cold openings in SNL history, seen in the video below.
  • Independence Day was the top-grossing film, coming in at over $817 million.
  • The Summer Olympics were hosted by the city of Atlanta, marking the first time since 1984 that the U.S. hosted one of the Olympic games.
  • “Dolly” the sheep (aka, the world’s first cloned mammal) was born in Scotland.
  • If you wanted to access the Internet back in 1996, you were doing it via dial-up with a pay-per-minute (or pay-per-hour) plan, which meant you had to actually keep one of those countless AOL “100 Free Minutes” CD’s that you typically threw in the trash when collecting the mail. You were also likely using Netscape Navigator, which was by far the most popular browser back then, to surf the web.

Feel free to share in the comments below any other big events from 1996 that I likely missed, or simply what was going on in your own life the last time we got to enjoy watching a ranked basketball team.