Penn State Men’s Soccer Big Ten Tournament Preview

Penn State men’s soccer did it, folks. For the first time in eight years, the Nittany Lions are Big Ten regular-season champions.

This is the first time since 2017 that Indiana didn’t pull the Big Ten double by winning both the regular-season and conference tournament. Keeping in mind that the Hoosiers were one of Penn State’s two losses in conference play, how high can the Nittany Lions fly in the next week or so?

We have you covered on everything you need to know as the Nittany Lions enter the eight-team Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.

Quarterfinal: No. 8 Michigan State

Here is how the Big Ten Tournament bracket looks, with the Nittany Lions set for a Sunday matchup with the No. 8 Spartans.

The last time these two faced off, the Nittany Lions won in East Lansing 1-0 through a late Danny Bloyou strike. While Penn State took 86 minutes to strike on the Spartans, Michigan State actually has the worst goals-against average in the conference, conceding 29 times throughout the campaign. Combine that with Penn State’s 28 goals (roughly 1.65 per game), and the Nittany Lions are clearly favored.

Additionally, the Nittany Lions are the team in form heading into the quarterfinal showdown. Seth Kuhn won TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Week honors while Penn State rattled off two important wins this past week.

Meanwhile, Michigan State finished the conference campaign with two losses to Maryland and Northwestern and barely snuck into the playoffs.

Big Ten veteran Farai Mutatu is by far the most potent attacker for the Spartans, recording seven goals and three assists, although central defenders Brandon Hackenberg, Femi Awodesu, and Adam Laundree have dealt with worse.

Simply put, this should be an offensive game for Penn State.

The quarterfinal clash will be televised on BTN, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. at Jeffrey Field on Sunday, November 7.

What’s Ahead For The Nittany Lions?

Defeating Michigan State won’t be an easy task. However, the Nittany Lions should get the result, therefore getting the ability to host the semifinals and finals, which would be next Wednesday and Sunday, respectively.

Should Jeff Cook’s side advance to the final four, it would face the winner of Michigan and Wisconsin, two teams it defeated earlier this season. That could potentially set up the Nittany Lions’ second consecutive trip to the conference championship game.

Any neutral fan would drool over a rematch between Penn State and Indiana in the Big Ten title game. Nittany Lion fans would probably love to see a chance for revenge as well.

Todd Yeagley’s side has been dominant in the past few seasons, and despite finishing the 2021 campaign in the No. 3 spot, last spring’s national runner-ups have the mental edge on the Nittany Lions.

Speaking of last spring’s campaign, Penn State got the closest it has been to defeating the Hoosiers in the Jeff Cook era. However, a masterclass effort by Roman Celentano in the penalty shootout thwarted the Nittany Lions from finally overcoming Indiana.

Of course, Maryland is ranked ahead of Indiana and would be favorited to see Penn State in the Big Ten championship game. However, the thought of the Nittany Lions finally overcoming the Hoosiers to hoist another trophy, at Jeffrey Field no less, would be poetic, to say the least.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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