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Penn State Hockey: Inside The Bubble, But There's Work Left To Do

by on February 16, 2016 6:00 AM

After picking up 5-of-6 possible points during a weekend series on the road against Michigan State, Penn State bumped up one spot in the USCHO poll to No. 15. The Nittany Lions were ranked at the No. 16 spot heading into the series.

Perhaps more importantly, Penn State now sits at No. 14 in the PairWise rankings, a formulaic poll which simulates the selection committee. Generally, the top 16 teams in the PairWise are eventually selected for the postseason. Although with automatic bids awarded to conference tournament winners, the 10 at-large bids could be limited even further if upsets occur during conference tournaments.

So while Penn State sits two places inside the Top 16, anything is possible.

Which is turn will only make the remaining six games of the regular season all the more important, starting this weekend with the final home stand of the season against Ohio State.

After hosting the Buckeyes, Penn State will travel to Madison for a key series against the Badgers. While Wisconsin sits well outside the conference title race, wins and ties on the road can go a long way towards finalizing an at large bid. And if Penn State is to make a run at a conference tournament title, a No. 2 seed, which would secure a first round bye.

With Minnesota atop the conference standings with 33 points, seven ahead of the Nittany Lions, it will likely come down to a final series meeting against Michigan if Penn State is going to have a real shot at a regular season title. The Gophers and Wolverines will face off this weekend.

So for the second straight year Penn State sits in the thick of a postseason berth. And for the second straight year it might just come down to the final game of the season.

But that final push starts Friday as Penn State looks to pick up win No. 19 on the year.

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