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Ferry: Lions still can develop into NCAA tourney team

Photo from Penn State Athletics Twitter: Jamari Wheeler

Penn State is by no means out of the NCAA Tournament picture yet, even at 2-5 in the Big Ten, and interim coach Jim Ferry believes the team can develop into a tourney team.

“Yeah, I think we can develop into one,” Ferry said Tuesday. “I think we’re pretty close right now.

“I mean, we’ve had the hardest schedule in the country. We’ve had some good wins. We got a lot of opportunity ahead of us.”

Opportunity awaits for good wins every night in the Big Ten, which Ferry repeatedly praised as the best league in the country.

The Nittany Lions play at No. 13 Ohio State on Wednesday, then it’s back-to-back games against No. 14 Wisconsin, first home then away.

Penn State currently is No. 39 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, so it still is considered a bubble team. The Lions have won two in a row, over Rutgers and Northwestern, after starting 0-5 in the Big Ten.

We could know a lot more about Penn State’s tourney hopes after these three games. Lose all three, and at 2-8, that pretty much could be all she wrote.

But if the Lions could somehow win two of the next three, they would be 4-6 in the Big Ten with two more excellent wins on their resume. They’ve already beaten VCU (No. 44 in the NET) and Virginia Tech (No. 49).

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Even with a losing record in the league, they probably would be included in bracketologists’ field of 68 if they can win two of the next three.

“We have to continue to play better,” Ferry said. “I think we have to continue to get better. And that’s really the focus.

“We really don’t talk about it much as a team, getting to the NCAA Tournament, because if you focus on getting better every single day and do what you have to do to get better, then you’re going to have an opportunity to be in that tournament. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

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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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