Folks, it may only be December, but it’s officially time to resurrect the old Bracket Watch. While I certainly had more optimism going into this college hoops season, I did not envision Penn State finding themselves projected in a bracket this early in the season, but here we are as ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Nittany Lions listed as a 10-seed in the West Region and one of his “Last Four Byes” in his latest Bracketology. The “Last Four Byes” refer to NCAA bubble teams who make the cut, but avoid playing in the dreaded First Four play-in games.
This actually isn’t the first time PSU has appeared in the Field of 68 in Lunardi’s bracket, as they were also listed in the field last month prior to losses against Clemson and Michigan State, which knocked them down to the “First Team Out” in last week’s Bracketology. The combination of the upset win on the road at Illinois ten days ago as well as other teams ahead of them losing and PSU taking care of business themselves against Canisius however, appears to have been enough to vault them back into the bracket, for now.
Additionally, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has the Nittany Lions as an 8-seed in his latest bracket, well away from the NCAA bubble. In this mock bracket, the Nittany Lions would face 9-seed Miami (FL) in the first round before a possible second round date against top-seeded UConn.
The team has a pair of tune-up games left against Quinnipiac this Thursday and Delaware State next Thursday before diving head-first back into conference play by hosting Iowa on New Year’s Day, followed by a road game at Michigan before the much-anticipated Palestra game against Purdue in Philly on January 8th. No doubt, there will be plenty more opportunities ahead for the Shrews Crew to score some more resume-boosting wins and try to solidify their status as a March Madness participant. With the way this team has been shooting it from downtown, it’s going to be a wild rollercoaster ride, so strap in, folks!