Lions announce noncon slate

Nate Bauer, Senior Editor
Blue White Illustrated

The Penn State hoops program announced its nonconference set of games in full Wednesday in advance of the 2017-18 season. We break it down, here:

In the wake of an up-and-down, 15-18 overall season in 2016-17, Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions have decidedly changed course for the year ahead.

In this, year seven of Chambers' tenure at Penn State, the Nittany Lions will open with a Nov. 5 exhibition at the Bryce Jordan Center against Bloomsburg before beginning a 13-game slate of nonconference games.

The complete schedule is as follows:

Nov. 5 - Bloomsburg (Exhibition)

Nov. 10 - Campbell

Nov. 12 - Fairleigh Dickinson

Nov. 15 - Montana (Legends Classic)

Nov. 17 - Columbia (Legends Classic)

Nov. 20/21 - Legends Classic in Brooklyn (OK State/Pitt/Texas A&M)

Nov. 24 - Oral Roberts (292)

Nov. 29 - at N.C. State (B1G/ACC Challenge) (141)

Dec. 9 - George Washington (102)

Dec. 17 - at George Mason (103)

Dec. 19 - Binghamton (312)

Dec. 22 - Rider (197)

Dec. 30 - Coppin State (336)

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Following last season's results, welcoming four freshmen into the fold while taking on a challenging slate that produced an 8-5 record, the Nittany Lions have turned away from that strategy.

In a press release accompanying the schedule, Chambers explained the program's scheduling philosophy for the upcoming season.

"We set up our nonconference schedule to help us become the best team by the beginning of Big Ten competition," said Chambers. "Our goal was to put our players in a position to compete against different styles of play to prepare them for what they will encounter during the conference slate."

Styles of play, however, does not necessarily mean quality of play.

In the first four games of the nonconference schedule, the Nittany Lions will face programs with 200-or-worse RPI ratings from the 2016-17 season before heading to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic. At the Barclays Center, they'll face some combination of Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M, each of whom represent the only programs to finish with RPI ratings above 100 last season on their nonconference schedule.

Afterward, the lone highlights in quality remaining are games at N.C. State and George Mason, both 100s teams last season, along with a home game against George Washington.

Two sub-300 teams Binghamton and Rider round out the final three games of the noncon before the Nittany Lions move on to their Big Ten schedule, which will be released either later this month or in August.

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