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Penn State no longer part of the 2010 ESPN 76 Classic

Submitted by on April 12, 2010No Comment

HT: the 22,000

Disappointed that the Selection Committee shunned a deserving Lions squad as punishment for a embarrassingly weak non conference schedule, Tim Curley and Ed DeChellis’ staff set out to beef the strength of schedule up. In November of last year, the program announced it was invited and agreed to take part in the 2010 ESPN 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center on Thanksgiving weekend, just a short 6 games into the 2009 campaign.

This provided a glimmer of optimism for hoops fans when you consider the 2009 ESPN 76 Classic included 4 teams that were ranked by the time of the 2009 tournament; No. 8 West Virginia (2-0), No. 10 Butler (3-0), No. 16 (tie) Minnesota (3-0) and No. 19 (tie) Clemson (4-0). The overall record of all 8 teams participating in the 2009 ESPN 76 Classic stood at a staggering 23-2 right up to the tournament’s first day.

When you consider that the 2010 version included teams like Cal State Northridge (Big West Conference), Oklahoma State (Big 12), DePaul (Big East), Stanford (Pac-10), Tulsa (Conference USA), UNLV (Mountain West) and Virginia Tech (ACC), participation in the 2010 ESPN 76 Classic was considered quite legitimizing for the Penn State hoops program.

But this was just before the 2009 campaign teetered on the brink of setting a new record for futility.

It seems as if the Lion’s poor performance hasn’t escaped the organizers and participating teams of the ESPN 76 Classic. According to the 76 Classic official website today, Penn State is no longer listed as a fellow participant.

Almost akin to breaking up through text messages, the website promptly removed the Penn State logo from its front page without much fanfare.

While the headlines still remain within the archives, the website now omits almost all references to the Nittany Lions as if it never happened.

The 22,000 had this to say about the remaining schedule

So what does that leave us with? At the basketball banquet this past friday, they all but confirmed that the home opener is going to be against LeHigh, so you can mark that one up as the first game. Outside of that we know of a trip to Virgina Tech, and some team from the gutter of the ACC at home for the Big Ten/Acc Challenge.

For the overly optimistic fan, this is a huge set back in any hope of solidifying our strength of schedule and RPI and could jeopardize this team should they find themselves on the tournament bubble. While the administration will most likely cite scheduling conflicts for the sudden removal from the 76 Classic, the timing of the abrupt change clearly indicates otherwise. Invited in November 2009 to a tournament that was highly successful in 2009 fresh off a NIT championship, the Lions are suddenly no longer in the field following a disastrous and nearly winless Big Ten season in April 2010.

For the remaining teams in the 2010 ESPN 76 Classic, this change must represent a huge sigh of relief from the possible selection committee repercussions of facing a team that went 3-15 in Big Ten play, 11-20 overall, and anchored with an final RPI of 194 last season.

Is this still the direction you had in mind, Tim Curley?

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