March Madness is a tournament that college sports fans look forward to all year. However, unlike other sporting events, the Nittany Lions are often left out of the tournament. It has been over a decade since they last participated in March Madness (2011), and collegiate basketball fans are flooded with questions. Do they have what it takes to compete in this tournament? Is all of this just a fluke?
Who are our superstars? Where have they been?
Number ten, Andrew Funk, is a fifth-year student who transferred from Bucknell. He played for Bucknell for his first four years of college. During this season, Funk has been consistent with his three-point shots, often leading the team to victory. Number eleven, Camren Wynter is also a fifth-year student. Before coming to Penn State, he played for Drexel. Like Funk, Wynter has been extremely successful this season. This is number twenty-two, Jalen Pickett’s second year with the Nittany Lions. He played three seasons for Siena and transferred to Penn State for his senior year. Due to the pandemic, Pickett was granted a fifth year at Penn State.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry has been outstanding in regard to recruiting team members, and building a strong program. While this is only his second season with the Nittany Lions, he has an impressive track record with both NBA and Collegiate teams.
Let’s run it back to the start of the season, and take a look at the team, and the moves they’ve made to get this far. The team played their first game of the season on Nov. 7. After losing streaks, and waves of winning, the team ended the season with a record of (22-13). The team took four losses back to back, and when all hope was lost, they managed to recover. At the end of the season, they were fighting extremely hard to redeem themselves, and with how they have been playing, you could say they did…
Their performance in the Big Ten tournament was impressive, to say the least. The team’s debut game in the Big Ten tournament was against the seventh seed, Illinois. The team won this game by three points and triumphantly took on the second-seed Northwestern. Barely winning, with a two-point lead, the Nittany Lions played third-seed Indiana in the semi-finals. While the four-point difference may not seem like a lot, it is what landed the Nittany Lions in the championship game. The team made the Big Ten championship for the second time in program history. While they lost, they relentlessly fought against the top seed, Purdue, losing by only two points.
Penn State fans were on the edge of their seats on Selection Sunday. However, all the stress paid off and fans were rewarded with great news: Penn State has a spot in March Madness…
In the first round, their performance was outstanding. They (tenth seed) defeated (seventh seed) Texas A&M. During the game, Andrew Funk was on fire, leading the team by scoring eight three-point shots. Many brackets were busted, as the final score of the game was 76-59.
In the second round of the tournament, the Nittany Lions put up a fight against the second seed, Texas Longhorns. Unfortunately, they lost, but it was a close game. The final score of the game was 71-66. The Nittany Lions will not be continuing in the NCAA tournament this year, but they really put up a fight!
Which team are you rooting for this year? Is your bracket looking promising? Make sure to tweet us @VALLEYmag with your March Madness predictions!