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Experts agree poor schedule kept PSU out of NCAA tourney

March 16, 2009 - Cory Giger

A sampling of what the national pundits had to say about why Penn State did not make the NCAA Tournament.

As you can see, the sentiment is clear: The non-conference schedule just was not good enough. Also, some of the experts point out upsets in conference tournaments -- like USC in the Pac-10 and Mississippi State in the SEC -- stole bids from Penn State.

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Mike Slive, selection committee chairman, when asked about Penn State's non-conference schedule

We tried to deliver the message this year that it's your entire body of work. It starts in November and December and goes through the tournament. And one of the statistics that I tried to look at myself was trying to find teams that played away and won against top teams in the country, and there are very few of those kinds of wins. And I think the message here is those kinds of wins will make a difference.

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Andy Katz, ESPN

I don't think there's any question that Penn State and St. Mary's -- and I'm basing this on what Commissioner Slive said during his conference call tonight -- those two schools were the two schools that were discussed the most of the schools that were left out. So had those upsets not occurred in those conference tournaments, Penn State and St. Mary's, I think, would be in the field.

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Digger Phelps, ESPN

Penn State's non-conference record was not impressive. Yeah, they had some teams they beat in the Big Ten Conference, but not enough to get it done when it counted, especially in the conference tournament.

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Hubert Davis, ESPN

I do think Penn State was left out, the only reason was because of the surprises in the Pac-10 and also in the SEC. ... Those two [upsets] I think got Penn State out of the NCAA Tournament.

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Jay Bilas, ESPN

Penn State, they should have scheduled better non-conference, and they know that. And they had a chance to do it.

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Dick Vitale, ESPN

Penn State and Auburn, I think all they've got to do is go look at their pre-conference schedule, and that's what hurt them. They had some quality wins, they played well -- especially Auburn lately -- and you talk about Penn State, I mean, they beat Michigan State, a good Michigan State team, at Michigan State, beat Illinois twice. But their pre-conference schedule … so the message to them is loud and clear: You've got to go out and play some quality competition. … Penn State's pre-conference schedule was not anywhere near compared to some of the people that are out there.

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Bob Knight, ESPN

I don't think we should spend a heck of a lot of time talking about games that Michigan won in November, or whenever it was, against UCLA and Duke. How much better today is Michigan than Penn State? I think that's the question. We can talk about Penn State's mediocre or very poor non-conference record, fine. They may even have accomplished something nobody else did by coming off a poor non-conference record and then playing through January, February and the first part of March better than a lot of other teams did. And right now, my guess is that both Penn State and Auburn are better basketball teams that a lot of teams that are in the tournament.

 
 

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