With their regular season a little over halfway through, the Lady Lions have not been the best team in the Big Ten as the media and coaches predicted they would be. In fact, they’ve been far from it. After three conference games, the Lady Lions are 1-2 and 11-4 overall.
Now, after Saturday’s 75-65 loss to Michigan State (11-5, 3-0), Penn State is absent from the AP Poll for the first time all season.
After starting the year at No. 11, best in the Big Ten, the Lady Lions have scuffled. Although guard Maggie Lucas is second in the Big Ten with 20 points per game and the Lady Lions are third in the conference in scoring, they are only seventh in defense and haven’t been able to get past most of the tough teams on their schedule.
To the Lady Lions’ credit, three of the four teams they have lost to are now ranked: No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 15 Nebraska, and No. 20 Delaware. Meanwhile, Michigan State is receiving votes in the AP Poll, so they’re also a tough opponent.
Their next two games offer no solace, either. On Thursday night, the Lady Lions will welcome the 13-3 Michigan Wolverines, who are receiving votes, to the Bryce Jordan Center in a rather important game for the underachieving team. After that, it’s onto Lincoln for a rematch with the Cornhuskers.
Still, they let Nebraska beat them at home in the Big Ten opener, and followed that up with a dud in their next home game against Michigan State. To make matters worse, they’ve only defeated one ranked team all season, then-No. 13 North Carolina.
The Lady Lions need to take advantage of their easier games on their schedule, of which there are not many. They have one game each against Illinois, Indianaa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern, and two games against Minnesota. Those should be relatively easy wins. On the other hand, they play Michigan twice, Michigan State and Nebraska again, Iowa, and No. 11 Ohio State and No. 22 Purdue. The Lady Lions will have to buckle down in the stretch to regain the voters’ respect.