There’s no way to sugarcoat it — Penn State Basketball ended the regular season in a free fall, capped off with a loss to a Northwestern team with just eight wins on the season.
The Nittany Lions were riding high the last time they faced the Wildcats on Feb. 15. It was their eighth consecutive victory that catapulted them to #9 in the AP Poll - tying for the best ranking in program history. Since them, Penn State has lost five of six as they must now find a way to regroup heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
The beauty of the college basketball season is that it is divided into four parts — the nonconference slate, the conference schedule, the conference tournament, and if you’re good enough, and oftentimes lucky enough, the big dance. In the lead up and throughout March Madness the folks at Sports Betting Dime list ncaab odds in real-time with can be compared for the best value. These pre-March Madness games give teams the opportunity to find its rhythm and identity, and pick itself up after a tough stretch. Unlike college football, you can survive a bad stretch of play and get hot at the right time. It’s what happens every March as unlikely teams find themselves cutting down the nets.
Can this Penn State team recapture its winning ways after ending the season on a cold streak? While it may not seem encouraging, it’s certainly possible. This Nittany Lions squad is built for tournament play. They have one of the nation’s top overall players in Lamar Stevens. They play tenacious defense. They have a deep bench, with a variety of players risen to the occasion on any given night. And when the threes are falling, they can beat any team in the nation. Yes, any team. Penn State will need to find consistency behind the arc, but if they do, the first ever Big Ten Tournament title could very well be coming back to Happy Valley.
Odds Penn State reaches Sweet 16/Elite 8/Final 4
Once projected to be a #3 seed, Penn State is now on track to be a #5 or #6, which seriously attenuates their chances of making a deep run. SBD gives them +180 odds (35% chance) to reach the Sweet 16 at this point. Historically, #6 seeds only reach the Sweet 16 about 30% of the time and are generally underdogs from the Round of 32 onward. By contrast, #3 seeds reach the Sweet 16 about 53% of the time and reach the Final Four just over 12%.
Odds Lamar Stevens named Big Ten Player of the Year
Lamar Stevens’ chances of winning Big Ten POY have sunk along with Penn State’s recent record. With Iowa’s Luka Garza continuing to be a top-three national POY contender, Kaleb Wesson leading Ohio State to a late-season resurgence, and preseason favorite Cassius Winston doing the same for Sparty, Stevens’ has less than a 1% chance of winning the award at this point. SBD sets his odds at +12500.
Odds Pat Chambers named Big Ten Coach of the Year
Late-season stumbles notwithstanding, Pat Chambers will get some attention in the Big Ten Coach of the Year voting. Penn State was picked to finish 9th in the conference in the preseason media-day poll. With a log-jam at the top of the standings, the coaches leading the mid-pack teams that are exceeding expectations will likely garner the most votes. This should be a close three-way race between Chambers, Illinois’ Brad Underwood, Rutgers’ Steve Pikiell. SDB makes Pikiell the favorite at +200, followed by Underwood at +300 and Chambers at +500. Pikiell has Rutgers on track to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991, which is the kind of narrative voters adore.