NIT or NCAA: Penn State Nittany Lions

It's bubble time in college hoops, so FanHouse is here to determine whose gets popped and who rides the bubble to the Big Dance. Check back for more NCAA or NIT calls.

Team: Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 19-8 (8-6 Big Ten)

Good Wins: at Michigan State, at Illinois, vs. Purdue, vs. Minnesota

Bad Losses: Really, none. I guess you could say that neutral loss to Rhode Island didn't help matters.

Penn State has fared better than several of its similars in Big Ten play, but the problem is its work in non-conference play. Temple and Rhode Island were the only non-conference teams they played who currently reside in the RPI top 100 -- and Penn State lost both of those contests. Neither was a road game. The best win outside the conference came against Mount St. Mary's.

What the Nittany Lions really have going for them is their overall strong showing in what has proven to be a very solid conference this season. Of their four remaining regular season games -- at Ohio State, vs. Indiana, vs. Illinois, at Iowa -- they'll need to split at the very least. Winning three of the four would go a long way in solidifying a spot.

If they can get solid inside-outside play from Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley, Ed DeChellis and his troops will find themselves in great position to go dancing for the first time in several years.

Other Views:
Penn State currently sits 62nd in RPI, Bracketology has them as one of the last four teams in, the State of College Basketball has them 62nd and rising, and the Nittany Lions currently sit at 54 in the Sagarin Ratings. Pretty much every single place you look has them firmly planted on the bubble.

Verdict: As of today, I'd have them squeaking in the NCAA by the skin of their teeth, but they have a good amount of work to do in order to complete their tourney resume. It begins with a huge contest Tuesday night in a nationally telecast tilt with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Winning that one would give the Nittany Lions another RPI top 50 win (for now) in addition to chalking up another quality road win. Needless to say, it's a big one.

NIT or NCAA: Penn State Nittany Lions originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Tue, 24 Feb 2009 09:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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