Bucknell won the Patriot League regular season title and made it to the second round of the NIT. They do battle with Penn State this season...how will the Nittany Lions do? Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE
You might say that July is too early for a complete article on Penn State's out of conference slate. Projecting who is going to win a basketball game more than four months in advance is a bit of a futile endeavor, and besides, the schedule isn't even set. We don't know exactly what teams Penn State is playing yet, and we don't know *when* a lot of the games are either.
But that doesn't mean that we don't know anything! Even though Penn State hasn't officially confirmed every matchup yet, we have a pretty good idea of some of PSU's early season matchups. Let's take a look
Boston College (B1G-ACC Challenge) NOV 28TH Penn State will get a rematch of last year's B1G/ACC tussle, which they won 62-54. Beating Boston College sounds impressive but BC was fairly terrible last year, finishing with a 9-22 record and an RPI between Portland and something called a Presbyterian. BC was exceptionally young last year, and with their history, and with another year of experience, they shouldn't be nearly as terrible as before. Penn State gets the Golden Eagles at home though, with what appears to be a winnable game.Bucknell Nov 23rd- Duke-slaying Lehigh is likely to be the favorite to win the Patriot League, but let us not forget that Bucknell actually won the regular season crown last year. The Bison have been one of the more consistently successful low major teams (they won the Patriot League regular season or tourney title six times since 2005). They went 24-10 last season, won a game in the NIT, and will be in a good spot to be similarly successful. The Bison had an 81 RPI last season, which would be a perfectly respectable feather in Penn State's cap. If they can't get it done this season, they'll have other chances. Bucknell will appear on the schedule for the next two seasons.
Duquensne- Dec 28th. Penn State has said they wanted to place a priority on playing local teams before Big Ten play, and Duquesne would fit right with that strategy. The Dukes beat Penn State 66-59 last season, but that was in Pittsburgh, and Penn State will get them in State College this year. Duquense plays in the loaded A-10, which just got even more loaded with the additions of Butler and VCU this year, so they could be a nice RPI boost if the Nittany Lions can pull out a win.
Saint Francis (PA) Nov 9th- I won't insult your intelligence and pretend I know a lot about Saint Francis, because I don't. I know they play in a bad conference (the NEC), and were one of the worst teams in college basketball, winning only 6 games, and finishing with an RPI over 300. You can't schedule a powerhouse, or even a possible tourney-caliber team every single week, which is why teams like Saint Francis appear on schedules. This should be an easy win.
Puerto Rico Tipoff Event Nov-15-18th. We don't know exactly who Penn State will be playing in this event, but we do know some of the other teams that will be participating. ACC Favorite NC State, Providence, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Akron and UMASS will be participating. Getting a win against any of these teams would be a great confidence booster and NCAA profile enhancer, but I'm not sure that Penn State would be much of a favorite against any of them.
La Salle (date not confirmed)- The Explorers had a strong season last year, finishing with an RPI under 100, winning 21 games, and making the NIT (losing to fellow B1G school Minnesota). Their A-10 schedule is also about to get a lot tougher, and they're going to be unlikely to be quite as good as they were before. If Penn State is committed to playing schools within the state though, La Salle should be a good test.
These are just the announced games so far. Penn is a school that has been mentioned as a possible game for this season, and Penn State has also talked about getting games against Pitt and WVU. Outside of the PR tip off event, these names will be unlikely to fan's hair on fire, but given Penn State's goals for the season, they could very well be a good fit for the club.