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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Hold Steady At No.11 With Second Place Finish In Sight

by on February 27, 2017 3:20 PM

Penn State hockey is holding steady at No. 11 in the latest poll released on Monday afternoon. The Nittany Lions are coming off of a 4-2 and 4-1 sweep of Michigan State over the weekend in East Lansing.

The Big Ten has four of the conference's six teams in the Top 20 with Notre Dame, slated to join the conference next season, coming in at No. 12 just behind Penn State.

More importantly for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament hopes, Penn State sits at No. 9 in the PairWise rankings and is likely just a few wins over the final four games from all-but-officially clinching an at-large bid.

For the immediate future though Penn State will eye an alternative route to the NCAA Tournament through an automatic bid via a Big Ten Tournament title.

That particular road is looking slightly easier than it did a week ago, Ohio State's split against Michigan pushing Penn State into third place in the Big Ten. With the Nittany Lions set to host Wisconsin this weekend, Penn State could leapfrog the Badgers into second heading into the final two games of the year.

If the Nittany Lions are able to hang on to that No. 2 seed it would not only mean a first round bye in the conference tournament but avoiding Minnesota until the conference championship. Penn State has gone 0-4 this season against the Gophers but not without two near victories in the most recent meetings between the two teams.

Needless to say, Penn State's tournament chances will be made all the easier the more wins the Nittany Lions can manage in the final five guaranteed games of the year.

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