Joe Lunardi Moves Penn State Hoops Into “Next Four Out”
Penn State has been on a roll as of late, winning six of its last seven games, including two victories over Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have played well enough, it seems, to be vaulted into ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out” of the NCAA Tournament. They are joined by Boise State, Temple, and Utah.
With two of the last three games against ranked opponents, Penn State certainly has the opportunity to solidify a tournament berth. The one game against an unranked team is on the road in Lincoln, Nebraska where the Nittany Lions will take on the Cornhuskers to wrap up the regular season. It will be a matchup of two bubble teams, as Nebraska is listed as one of Lunardi’s “First Four Out.” Should the Nittany Lions beat either Michigan or Purdue, and defeat the Cornhuskers, they will be sitting at more than 20 wins for the first time in Pat Chambers’ tenure.
Lunardi has been extremely accurate working for ESPN as a bracketologist. In 2016, he correctly predicted 65 of 68 teams to be part of March Madness. Since the tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011, he has even correctly seeded more than 50 percent of the field.
Penn State has risen to 25th in BPI and ranks 28th in KenPom since defeating the Buckeyes — both metrics used to determine how worthy a team is of making the Big Dance. Of course the Nittany Lions also have the conference tournament to look forward to, a time where many teams on the bubble are essentially fighting for their postseason lives. They sit right next to both Michigan and Nebraska in the conference standings, teams they are set to take on in the next week.
If they can keep playing with the intensity they showed against Ohio State, the Nittany Lions could even move into the fourth seed to secure a double-bye. After all, a top four team in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation would be hard to pass up for Joe Lunardi come Selection Sunday.