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Penn State Hoops Ranked Among Andy Katz’s Power 36 Teams

Despite not inspiring much confidence among fans last year, Penn State men’s basketball is garnering plenty of early hype ahead of the 2019-20 season.

College basketball analyst and Big Ten Network contributor Andy Katz is among those who are buying into the hype. Katz ranked Penn State No. 34 in his Power 36 team rankings he released Thursday morning.

Katz cited the return of Lamar Stevens, which was announced Wednesday night, as a main reason for his optimism. However, he thinks rising sophomore Myles Dread and big man Mike Watkins need to take strides in order for the Nittany Lions to make good on their NCAA tournament potential.

“If Myles Dread and Mike Watkins make the necessary jump, the Nittany Lions should have the pieces in place to finally make the NCAA tournament,” he said.

Katz, who’s covered every Final Four since 1992, placed the Nittany Lions ahead of Michigan — a No. 2 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament — and two spots below Tennessee, also a two-seed in the 2019 Big Dance.

Penn State had a complete dud of a season after winning the NIT in 2018. The Nittany Lions lost their first 10 Big Ten games and finished the 2018-19 season with a 14-18 overall record. Pat Chambers’ squad was bounced out of the Big Ten Tournament following a second-round overtime loss to Minnesota and didn’t even get a chance to defend its NIT title.

On top of last season’s regression, rising sophomore guard Rasir Bolton announced his transfer to Iowa State on Tuesday night. Bolton showed promising potential by scoring 11.6 points per game and playing a prominent role off the bench throughout the season. Bolton and Josh Reaves’ departures will likely lead to the team leaning on the likes of Jamari Wheeler and Myles Dread to produce at the guard position.

Penn State has qualified for the NCAA tournament just four times since 1990, and it hasn’t been included in the Big Dance since 2011. If Katz’s early projections are any indication, however, the Nittany Lions should be right in the thick of the discussion.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is Onward State's assistant sports editor. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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