NCAA Tournament: Does Penn believe in miracles? Yes!
It was a little over 38 years ago when the upstart American hockey team defeated the machine-like Soviet Union en route to a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was an impossible task, one that has never been done before and one that will probably never happen again. It was the ultimate David vs Goliath and the reason why sports mean so much to so many people
Enter the Penn Quaker basketball team, a 16 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament and tasked with having to play top seeded Kansas in the first round. A 16 seed has never won over the decades that the tournament has run. There have been some close calls, but this has still never happened in history.
As much as many may think that this is the ultimate David vs Goliath matchup, Penn is much more than just a 16 seed. They won the Ivy League tournament with relative easy, went 24-8 on the season in what was a very competitive Ivy League, and held a 12-2 conference record. Most believe they should be at least a 14 seed heading into this weekend’s action.
Penn is led by their top two scorers Ryan Betley (14.5 PPG) and AJ Brodeur (13.1 PPG). They have incredible guards and play tenacious defense. They only give up 68.7 points per game and although they never played top tier competition they could give Kansas fits. According to 538, they are the highest rated 16 seed to ever make the tournament. Their ELO rating is 1700, making them 200 points higher than the average D-1 team.
The key to beating Kansas is to get to them early. While Bill Self’s teams have traditionally had some major success come tournament time, they’ve also been susceptible to early exits. If Penn can rattle the Jayhawks’ confidence early, they have a good shot to come away with the historic win. The question is, can they pull it off?