When it comes to great college basketball players that have never played in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State Nittany Lions senior point guard Talor Battle has to be considered at the very top of the the list.
Many people often consider Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks to be the best player in MLB history never to have played in the postseason. He won the NL MVP award with some really terrible Cubs teams in the 1950s. And Battle is kind of like the Big Ten basketball version- in some ways.
But with the 61-48 Big Ten Tournament semifinal win over Michigan State , this comparison likely won’t hold true anymore. It appears PSU has punched their ticket.
By Paul M. Banks
MSU looks tourney bound, so when you pair this win with last night’s UGLY victory over Wisconsin, it seems the resume is solid- and the conference will get seven teams in. Yes, the Big Ten will send seven.
PSU’s leader best summed up their selling points when asked at the postgame presser if State is in.
“Yes, our strength of schedule is 5, RPI is 42, what else do want us to do? We came here and beat Indiana, Wisconsin, a top 15 team, and we just beat Michigan State. We’ve done the things we needed to do. And we’ll play hard tomorrow,” Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis said.
Spartans leader Tom Izzo thinks so as well.
“I think so, of course I’m prejudiced because I’m in the league,” Izzo said.
“He’s done an incredible job with that team. I’m happy for him as much as I’m disappointed. That game switched like that.”
Battle went off for a game-high 25 points (7-16 from the floor, 6-11 from deep) to help Penn State advance to the Big Ten Championship where they will meet the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday. Tim Frazier also hurt the Spartans, scoring a career high 22 on 9-13 shooting.
Penn St. has made 8 tournament appearances, compiling a 9-10 record, and reaching the Final Four in 1954. In 2001, their most recent visit, they reached the sweet 16.
Battle talked about the chance to put on his dancing shoes.
“That would be great, everyone can talk all day about the individual accolades, but I would trade all of them in to play in the NCAA tournament,” said Battle.
Does Battle think they’re in?
“I hope so. I can tell you one thing, if we win tomorrow, we’re in. Our focus is to go out and win tomorrow,” said Battle.
Penn State’s signature wins are two over Wisconsin, and they have some decent wins over Michigan State (2), Illinois, and Minnesota. But they have an ugly loss at home to Maine, and should the committee find themselves narrowed down to PSU and Virginia Tech, the Lions‘ 10 point loss to Va Tech on December 12th could work against them.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine.
He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank