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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Face Hampton In First Round Action Wednesday Night

by on March 19, 2014 11:20 AM

Sure, it's fair for fans not to get caught up in CBI bracket fever. It's also fair for them to feel a little disappointed in a season that was just a few bounces away from a very different record. 

But Penn State isn't playing in the College Basketball Invitational tournament because it's flashy or for the TV coverage. The Nittany Lions are playing in the post season because it's an investment for the future of the program and the future of many young players on the current roster.

"It gives us a chance to practice," Coach Patrick Chambers said earlier this week. "Gives us a chance for the younger guys to play in a game. I think there's so many positives for these players and this program. I was excited. It was very late last night but I'm nonetheless excited. Any time you can play in games and continue the process of getting better and getting the jersey on, you want to play. if we don't then I didn't bring the right guys in here."

And that's the attitude Penn State will need to bring to a tournament that could very well add six games to its schedule. With the regular season over, this post season tournament trip is a chance to continue to get better and continue to improve as a team. With the world focused on the NIT and NCAA tournament, the Nittany Lions can quietly work on their own progress. If Penn State makes it to the final game of the championship series, that's six more games on the schedule and a 20 win season if they come out on top.

"I want to try to get the freshmen more time than I typically would," Chambers said said. "Get Geno (Thorpe) more minutes and Graham (Woodward) more, get Jordan (Dickerson) above 20 (minutes), see how he does."

The Nittany Lions face Hampton on Wednesday night and should move on in their bracket taking their game on the road.

"Hampton plays a very similar style to Minnesota," Chambers said. "They're not as big but very quick and athletic. They want to score in upper 70s. It sounds like I'm talking about Minnesota. It'll be good to get out of the league and see where we are and see where some of the younger kids are."

Considering that Chambers and company went 0-3 against Minnesota this season he'll have to hope Hampton isn't too much like the Gophers although similar styles of play don't always reflect similar abilities in execution.

The CBI may not be flashy and it may not be sexy, but it's what the Nittany Lions need and that's why Wednesday night's 7 p.m. tip is still important.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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