All but written off and for good reason, the Penn State Men’s basketball team headed into the Big Ten tournament a paltry 4-14 in conference play and was 2-8 in their previous ten games. The Nittany Lions were one of the bottom four teams in the Big Ten and were dropped into one of the B1G Ten tournament “play-in games”.
The 12 vs. 13 seed game isn’t usually known for drama or record breaking performances but the Penn State v. Nebraska game featured both, with PSU breaking the tournament record for blocks with 16 and Nebraska having a chance to send the game into overtime at the buzzer. The three-point shot was short and by the skin of their teeth D.J Newbill (The Big Ten’s leading scorer, 20.8 PPG but somehow 2nd team all-conference) and the Lions advanced to face 5th seed Iowa who had beat them just 2 weeks ago in overtime.
No one (including myself) gave Penn State much of a chance to take down the 5th seeded and NCAA tournament bound Hawkeyes. Trailing by 8 at the half, Newbill, Shep Garner, and Ross Travis sparked an offense that poured in 48 second half points and was unbelievably clutch down the stretch. Travis, a 25% free throw shooter made 5/6 from the stripe and had a twisting reverse layup and-1 to seal the game with 30 seconds left. Newbill put a stamp on the game with a fast break flourish that sent the PSU contingent into a frenzy.
When the horn sounded 13 seed Penn State had won 67-58 and was headed to the quarterfinals. It was Head Coach Pat Chambers post-game interview that inspired Lion fans around the country.
“Why not us? I mean why not? It could be our turn,” Chambers said
Why not us? It should serve as a reminder that no matter how bad last game or the last 10 games were it doesn’t matter. Each game is a new game. Each day is a new day. Why not us? There’s no reason a miracle can’t happen. Go State. Beat Purdue.