Every year, I pick one team at the bottom of the Big Ten and root for them. Every year, this team is Northwestern. And every year, they don't quite have the resume to make the tournament. There's a trend: they beat one or two ranked teams, come close on others, win the games they're supposed to win, watch as the same four or five Big Ten teams make the tournament, and then sigh in disappointment when one atypical team is picked from the Big Ten Conference and it's (again) not them. Two years ago, it was Michigan. Last year, it was Minnesota. It appears that this year, that team might be Penn State.
You might scoff, but I think that Penn State has a legitimate chance to make the NCAA tournament come March, if they continue playing the way they're playing right now, which comes as a bit of a surprise when you look at the first half of their season. Prior to conference play, Penn State was 7-4; not a bad record, except when you check out who they played and who they lost to. Who they played: absolutely nobody. Who they lost to: absolutely nobody. Mississippi (4th in the (really quite bad) SEC), Maryland (tied for 6th in the ACC, having lost their beloved Vasquez), Vermont (also tied for 6th in the ACC), and Maine (I was unaware until this moment that Maine had a basketball team).
So what's so great about this team, then? Why do I think they will be the team that Northwestern watches make the NCAA Tournament over them? Their Big Ten record. 5-4.
Yes, I'm serious. Admittedly, 5-4 is not a great record. But, again, it's who they've played and who they've beaten. Their losses thus far come to Michigan, Purdue (twice), and Ohio State. All but the Michigan game is acceptable and predictable. However, that second loss to Purdue was by 1 point and that loss to OSU (at OSU) was by three (and completely given to the Buckeyes by the refs, FYI. Skip to about 5:25 in that clip). Who've they beaten? #19 Michigan State (though that's looking less and less impressive by the minute), #16 Illinois, and #15 Wisconsin. Talor Battle is having a great season and when he isn't playing like the best player in Penn State basketball history, his teammates Jeff Brooks or Tim Frazier are. Ed DeChellis has been in the running for Big Ten Coach of the Year for the last few years and hasn't won, but he's making a good argument for himself this year. So, yes, I am serious. This is a team of champions. NIT champions, but champions nonetheless. I like to see Big Ten teams in the tournament so, from here on out, I'll be rooting for the Nittany Lions in all but three games: at MSU and both against Northwestern (I can still hold out hope for them, right?).
Last blog, I questioned the top five teams in the nation. The results can be summed up accurately as follows: not as good as their ranking (Syracuse), as good as their ranking (Pitt and Kansas), and undecided (Duke and the Ohio State Luckeyes).
The title of this blog is Jacob Davis. He's not a star nor does he have any heartwarming feel good stories (that I know of, at least). He's not even an athlete. Jacob Davis is some kid who goes to Texas Tech who really wants to see the Packers play in the Super Bowl. However, he's found the tickets to be a little pricey ($2,200) and is trying a different approach. He's offering to grace someone with his presence in their suite in Dallas at the game by selling himself on eBay. Yes, someone will be paying to take him to the Super Bowl. Yes, that really is as strange and disturbing as it sounds. I don't know how it works, but when I heard the story he already had 4 bids (hence he is blog entry number 4). If you're interested in giving some college kid the extra Super Bowl ticket you happen to have lying around, here's the link to his eBay page.
Other than that football game later this week, take a look at this video from (the) Ohio State University. Not as good as this one last year from Washington, but entertaining to see the (almost guaranteed) freshman of the year singing Miley Cyrus. This is what college basketball players do when they're bored.
The Sports Nerd