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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Headed To NIT, Will Face Temple In First Round

on March 11, 2018 10:37 PM

Penn State basketball is headed to the NIT and will face Temple at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday the tournament announced on Sunday night.

The Nittany Lions gathered together for the NCAA Tournament reveal on Sunday night, eagerly awaiting their destination, hoping that a 21-13 record would be enough to make field of 64 for the first time since 2011. 

But it was not to be. A loss to Rider and difficult setbacks across the Big Ten schedule haunted a Penn State team that clearly had the talent but not quite the resume for a NCAA bid. The Nittany Lions' best wins came against Ohio State, three victories in the highest tier as established by the tournament committee. Perhaps not enough diversity of wins, something coach Pat Chambers doesn't agree with.

"I thought they were really going to hold the Quad 1, the metrics, I thought they were going to hold some weight with 21 wins, two wins in the Big Ten Tournament, an unranked team beating a ranked team and all those fabulous statistics, but it didn't hold true," Chambers said Sunday night. "Historically, they said typically this team gets in, but this year we did not. ... In general, the Big Ten didn't get much respect."

 "I told them to be upset now, be disappointed now, but in a couple hours that's over with," Chambers added. "We're going to get up tomorrow, we're going to get better, we're going to compete in one of the better NIT brackets I've seen in a long time. ... It should be easy to get them ready to play."

The good news, if such a thing exists for the program at this juncture, the Nittany Lions will face a Temple team littered with familiar faces as Penn State team with plenty of Philadelphia connections of its own. Friends taking on friends for an intriguing meeting between two teams that came up a bit short of their bigger goals.

More on the housekeeping side of things, Penn State is a four-seed on its side bracket and will host Temple in the first round of the tournament. They host the Owls on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center on ESPNU.

Notre Dame, Oregon, and Rider are among the teams that fill out Penn State’s corner of the field. The Nittany Lions don't expect big man Mike Watkins back from injury during the tournament.

"We just want to play," senior Shep Garner said. "Of course we wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament, but we want to play. ... We're not done with this season and I think this is a special group and we have something special going on here so the more games we play we just want to enjoy it and not take it for granted."

And as far as history? Temple has knocked Penn State out of each of its past two NCAA Tournament appearances, albeit Wednesday's game comes with slightly smaller stakes. 

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