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Penn State Hockey: Very Simple Weekend Rooting Guide

by on February 28, 2020 1:30 PM

Penn State hockey is idle for the final weekend of the regular season, but the Nittany Lions will have plenty of rooting interests and a surprisingly large amount at stake as the rest of the conference plays on Friday and Saturday night.

First and foremost, Penn State could very well win the Big Ten regular season title as soon as Friday night with the right results. The trick, getting losses from Minnesota and Ohio State who both sit in a favorable position to overtake the Nittany Lions.

As things stand heading into the weekend Penn State leads the conference with 41 points, four ahead of the Buckeyes and the Gophers. Notre Dame is just a bit farther behind with 35 points meaning that the Irish are a sweep away from a share of the conference crown.

So it's four teams, one title, and one first-round bye for the top seed. Penn State has already locked up home ice in the conference tournament for at least the first round (a best of three) but finishing first in the Big Ten would give the Nittany Lions a second week off and home ice in the conference semifinals (single elimination).

As for the program's first-ever regular season Big Ten title, the equation there is fairly simple.

Minnesota can't get more than four points (A win and a tie) 

Ohio State can't get more than four points (a win, or two ties and a third point from the 3-on-3 or shootout period.)

Penn State could also get a full share of the title rather than a co-champion nod if both Minnesota and Ohio State earn only three points and Notre Dame earns less than six. In theory losses by all three teams on Friday night would secure this scenario.

The Gophers host Michigan this weekend, taking on a Wolverine team that has been surging the past few weeks despite being swept by Notre Dame last weekend. Ohio State hosts Wisconsin, a team well out of the mix but also a bit more feisty than its record might indicate.

This weekend will bring equal parts regret and a polite indifference by the Nittany Lions who have been on the wrong end of more than their fair share of a bad bounces this season but as a team talented enough to have already locked up a regular season title. If the chips don't fall in Penn State's favor it will be another bad break, but one the Nittany Lions know they could have prevented.

All the same the possibility still remains, and with a Big Ten Tournament and an NCAA Tournament beyond that, there are bigger fish to fry not far down the river. 

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