NCAA Tournament 2001 - Penn State waits for bid; likes result


Penn State waits for bid; likes result

Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The suspense is over, but the NCAA selection committee didn't make the wait easy for Penn State fans.

Penn State is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996, Jerry Dunn's first year as head coach. The Nittany Lions (19-11) received the No. 7 seed in the South Region and will face Providence (21-9) in the first round in New Orleans.

Out of 65 teams in this year's tournament field, Penn State was the 60th team to be announced, leaving Nittany Lions fans holding their collective breath.

The Nittany Lions' beat eight teams in this year's NCAA field, including No. 1 seeds Illinois and Michigan State and No. 2 seed Kentucky. But their NCAA hopes were in doubt after they blew a 20-point lead at home against Ohio State in their last regular-season game, leaving them with three losses in their last four games and a 7-9 Big Ten record.

An opening-round Big Ten tournament win against Michigan gave Penn State a boost, but it was their 65-63 victory Friday over No. 2 Michigan State in the quarterfinals that secured the Nittany Lions' spot.

It's just the third time since 1965 that Penn State has received an NCAA bid. The Nittany Lions haven't advanced past the second round since 1955.

Joe Crispin, a dangerous shooter with NBA range, led the Nittany Lions -- and the Big Ten -- in scoring with 19.9 points per game. Forward Gyasi Cline-Heard (15.9 ppg) and wing Titus Ivory (15.5 ppg) also are key contributors.

Providence has six players averaging at least 8.7 points per game, led by Erron Maxey (11.2 ppg), Abdul Mills (11.0 ppg) and John Linehan (10.9 ppg). Linehan is a 43 percent 3-point shooter.

A first-round win would pit Penn State against either North Carolina (25-6) or Princeton (16-10). The Nittany Lions beat Princeton 65-52 earlier this year in the opening round of the ECAC Holiday Classic in New York.

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 Penn State's Jerry Dunn talks about the importance of senior Joe Crispin.
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 Penn State coach Jerry Dunn believes his team's experience will help them in the NCAA Tournament.
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