The Biggest Games On The Spring Sports Schedule
Penn State and the NCAA’s biggest money-makers are either over or will come to a close early in the spring. Spring sports are generally a down-time for casual sports fans, but some of Penn State’s most successful sports are in action despite seeing lower turnouts than they deserve. If you want to dive into something new, or if you miss seeing the Blue and White compete, here are some matchups to look forward to this semester.
This upcoming weekend (Feb. 12-14), most sports are away but some highlights at home are men’s lacrosse’s second game of the season against Hobart and wrestling in Rec Hall versus Michigan State. The Spartans are 1-12 while the Nittany Lions are the No. 1 team in the nation, sitting pretty at 13-0. This is the team’s last match before the Dual Championship Series. If you’re looking for something to do on Valentine’s Day, check out the Lady Lions hosting Ohio State at 2 p.m.
The next weekend (Feb. 19-21, also known as THON weekend) is the last time the men’s hockey team will be home this season. It plays Ohio State Friday at 6:30 and Saturday at 3. Also that weekend is men’s volleyball hosting EIVA conference foes NJIT and Princeton, Friday at 7 and Saturday at 4 respectively.
Reigning Big Ten Champion women’s lacrosse makes its home debut that Saturday, taking on Duquesne in early-season action. The next day is the aforementioned wrestling Dual Championship Series in Happy Valley.
The last week of February is a comparatively uneventful one, but if you still need your fix of sports you can see Penn State and Nebraska’s men’s basketball teams in the BJC on Thursday, Feb. 25. Otherwise, the weekend features mostly away games or non-conference play.
Pat Chambers’ team’s regular season ends on March 3 and 6 at home against Northwestern and Illinois. Most of the spring sports will play down south, other than women’s lacrosse playing Loyola Maryland on Saturday, March 5.
The only home events the next week are women’s gymnastics’ Big Five qualifier and men’s lacrosse’s game against Harvard, both on March 12.
Finally, the weekend of March 18-20 will serve as a symbolic start to spring sports. After 14 road games to start its 2016 campaign, Rob Cooper’s baseball team will play a three-game series against Niagara. Men’s volleyball plays twice (including against non-conference Ohio State), men’s tennis plays twice, and softball plays three times at home that weekend.
Polarizing the weekend before, March 25 and 26 will only see Mark Pavlik’s men’s volleyball team play at home. First is against Lewis, then Loyola Chicago — the runner-up and National Champion from last season. If Penn State stays true to tradition, it’ll rinse through EIVA play and by the time these three meet, it’ll be one of the biggest series of the season.
April Fools’ Day marks the beginning of Penn State baseball and softball’s first home Big Ten series. Purdue will play three games in University Park against the men’s team and Michigan State will play the women’s team. Women’s lacrosse will play Rutgers at home on April 2. Rutgers is one of two Big Ten teams not nationally ranked at the start of the season, but who doesn’t love to see Penn State play Rutgers in a sport it should win?
If Penn State-Rutgers isn’t up your alley, Penn State-Pitt surely is. The teams will play a one-game baseball series on Tuesday, April 5. The team stays home for a series with Michigan State on the weekend, complemented by men’s volleyball playing Harvard and Sacred Heart. Men’s lacrosse plays Maryland at home on Sunday, April 10, in a game that should feature two highly ranked teams at the time.
A rare Wednesday quadruple-header is on April 13. With games at 4, 5, 6:30, and 7, the women’s lacrosse, baseball, and softball teams will provide entertainment to ease mid-week blues. That Sunday, Johns Hopkins (a member of the Big Ten for men’s lacrosse) will visit Happy Valley for another big game. That weekend is the EIVA Championship, which is hosted at the No. 1 seed’s home court.
The weekend of April 29-31 is the last before Penn State students’ finals, so it’s the last weekend in which State College’s population will be swelled. Fortunately, for those who want to enjoy the hopefully warm weather as a getaway from studying, the spring sports’ schedules align nicely. Softball and men’s lacrosse should have intense weekends with the Michigan Wolverines in town, and a baseball series against Maryland will add to the atmosphere.
Finals week marks the end of most sports, either in conference or national tournaments that are hosted outside of Happy Valley. Baseball and softball wrap their seasons up later in the month — the Big Ten Softball Tournament is at Penn State in the second week of May, and the baseball tournament is in Nebraska in the last week of the month.
It might not have football, basketball, wrestling, or hockey, but the spring semester is loaded with action out on the diamond, court, and field. At least three major sports should be in contention for a conference championship, and at the very least, you still have a few opportunities to watch Penn State beat Michigan.