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PSU hoops gameday: Lions open Big Ten at Michigan

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Myles Dread

Penn State opens Big Ten play today at 2 at Michigan. The Nittany Lions are coming off a tremendous performance in a 75-55 win at No. 15 Virginia Tech on Tuesday.

Penn State: The Lions are 3-1, with their lone loss coming to Seton Hall. They have played much better than anyone could have expected so far, without question, under interim coach Jim Ferry.

Michigan: The Wolverines are 5-0 under second-year coach Juwan Howard. They haven’t played a strong schedule, but they did rout UCF, 80-58.


Series: PSU has won the past two meetings, including 72-63 last season in Ann Arbor. The Lions are just 3-21 there all-time.

Line: Michigan by 7

Prediction: Michigan 76, Penn State 70

Prediction record: 2-2

Ferry on perhaps getting full-time PSU job: Ferry has done excellent work so far. The only loss came in a fluky situation where PSU blew an 8-point lead in the final 2 minutes against Seton Hall, a game the Lions led by 19 points.

That was a bad loss, no doubt. But the fact that PSU should have won that game does come into play when evaluating this team.

Virtually no one expected Ferry to have much of a chance to become PSU’s full-time coach after Patrick Chambers resigned and he was thrown into this difficult spot. But after this strong start, Ferry has at least earned the right to be in consideration for the job when Penn State conducts its national search after the season.

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What would Ferry have to do in Big Ten play to help his chances? Well, a lot.

This league is brutal, once again the best in the country, and Penn State was picked to finish 12th out of 14 teams. But if the Lions could pull off a 9-11 record, given what they did in the non-con, that probably would be enough to make the NCAA Tournament out of this league.

A 9-11 record may not sound all that great, but finding nine wins in the Big Ten is always a challenge. And there’s no way Penn State could hire someone else if Ferry leads this team to the tournament.

Now, if PSU goes 7-13 or worse in the league, Ferry may not have much leg to stand on, particularly if Penn State is determined to hire someone else regardless and start over.

I asked Ferry this week if he would like the full-time job and if he’s thought about what it would take to make that happen. You can check out his response below.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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