Ten days ago, Penn State rolled into the new year riding on a four-game win streak with an important home tilt against Iowa on the first day of 2023. The Shrews Crew utilized a solid shooting performance to build up a significant lead and ultimately hold off a furious rally by the Hawkeyes. They followed that up with a pair of losses to Michigan on the road and to Purdue at the Palestra that have since quieted the fan base a bit.
So, how are the Internet’s bracket geeks seeing things regarding PSU’s NCAA Tournament chances? ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the most recently updated bracket from yesterday and lists PSU amongst his “Next Four Out” which means he views the Lions are clearly on the wrong side of the bubble at the moment. Additionally, Brian Bennett over at The Athletic projects the Nittany Lions in his “First Four Out” as of last Friday (you will need to have a subscription in order to read the full article).
Meanwhile, Jerry Palm over at CBS Sports has PSU amongst his “Last Four In” which according to his projection, would see the Lions play in one of the First Four play-in games against Virginia Tech, in what would end up being a rematch from the Charleston Classic contest where the Hokies held off a furious rally by the Lions to preserve a two-point victory. Much like with Bennett, it should be noted that Palm hasn’t updated his bracket since last Friday, so it’s possible PSU could be on the outside of the bubble looking in for his next update.
This is the part where I remind you that there is plenty of basketball still to be played and that these bracket projections are merely a snapshot in time. The Lions will have an opportunity tonight at the friendly confines of the BJC to get back on the winning track against a reeling, hobbled, Indiana squad. They will also have opportunities in the next couple of weeks to snag another big road win against Wisconsin and Rutgers, either of which would provide a serious boost to the Lions’ NCAA Tournament resume. And of course, we still have all of February, and the early part of March coinciding with the Big Ten Tournament. There will be more feel-good wins and crushing losses along the way.
Welcome to life on the bubble. Strap in, ‘cause it’s going to be a bumpy ride...