Penn State Basketball Receives AP Votes; March Madness Projections
Today, the Associated Press released their Top 25 Poll for College Basketball. For the first time since a January 31st, 2011 win over Wisconsin moved them to 12-8, Penn State received votes in that poll. Three, to be precise.
That’s right, two people (Doug Doughty and Paul Zeise) who know what they’re talking about believe that the Penn State Nittany Lions are one of the 25 best college basketball teams in the country. Let that sink in for a moment, then remember to get to the Bryce Jordan Center when break is over.
The Nittany Lions are currently 10-1 after defeating the George Washington Colonials 64-51, KenPom’s No. 50 team before that game. If it runs the table in the remainder of its non-conference slate, Penn State could well be ranked in the top-25 for the first time since 1995-96, when it reached No. 9.
A year ago yesterday, Penn State blew a twenty point lead against Princeton in the ill-fated Return to Rec game. How did they get here? This year, DJ Newbill has turned into one of the best scorers in the country, instilling fear in his opponenets. Shep Garner has emerged as one of the most promising young point guards in the nation. Ross Travis rebounds like a madman. Brandon Taylor has become an excellent second option, making the corner three his home. Jordan Dickerson showed yesterday against GW that he can be an elite shot blocker and a presence in the paint on the defensive end. Geno Thorpe is Geno Thorpe. There’s so much to like about this team, and they have the Bryce Jordan Center rocking consistently for the first time since Ed DeChellis and Talor Battle were around and to capture a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. But can they truly make a run, or is this just the product of an easy non-conference schedule to start the year?
Jerry Palm, CBS’ resident bracketologist, believes it’s the former. In fact, he has the Nittany Lions as a No. 10 seed in his most recent bracketology iteration, the same seed they were awarded in 2011, when they lost a 66-64 heartbreaker to Temple in the opening round. Under Palm’s prediction, Penn State would have a favorable matchup with a seventh-seeded Old Dominion team in the South Region.
Now, it’s still early days. Conference play has yet to start, and there are still 16 weeks left of those beautiful AP Polls. However, this is a talented, exciting team with veteran leaders and talented youth, and those who have followed The Flaming Bus for the past few years are deservedly excited.
Penn State’s next game will be a neutral site game at 2 p.m. against Drexel in Allentown’s PPL Center on December 20. If you’re in the area, go out and support the Lions as they look to move to 11-1.