What we are here to do, though, is figure out what needs to happen for the one or two paths that would end with Penn State participating in March Madness to come to fruition.
There is no path which will lead them to the NCAA Tournament, None.
There was a readily available and a likely successful one for AD Sandy Barbour before the start of the season, but that path was closed for future travel this season when the "power-that-be" determined that The Used Car Salesman would retain his job as Penn State head coach for a seventh season.
I, of course, lobbied, posited and proposed why The Used Car Salesman should have been fired at the end of last season and i was, typically, excoriated by the pro-Used Car Salesman crowd (specifically Dan Smith and Rob Dougherty).
It highly amuses me how when I used comparitive data last year to argue for firing of The Used Car Salesman, I was promptly told
That's a whole lot of research for something that literally doesn't apply to PSU's situation at all.
from resident apologist Rob Dougherty, yet now when the "staff" at RLR chooses to use comparitive data from past seasons to argue that this team has a "path" to the NCAA Tournament, it is suddenly a prescient epiphany that should open the committee's eyes and convince them include Penn State in the NCAA Tournament.
At 30th, Penn State would be something of a rarity to miss out on the Tournament since Ken Pomeroy's site launched in 2002. Being a high-major team in the top-30 of KenPom has, historically, worked out well. The entire list of eligible top-30 squads to miss out in the history of the metric looks like this:
2017 TCU (29th)
2013 Baylor (28th)
2013 Iowa (29th)
2007 Clemson (29th)
2006 Michigan (28th)
2006 Notre Dame (29th)
2005 Ohio State (30th)
2004 Florida State (26th)
2002 South Carolina (20th)
The '02 Gamecocks are a major outlier, while the '04 Seminoles are, uh, a slightly less major outlier. Otherwise, while Penn State is in the zone where teams get left out — ranked between 28th and 30th — it's still extremely rare for this to happen. There have been nine teams in 16 years that have earned this distinction, and while past results aren't indicative of future outcomes, it's still a sign that teams this high are generally viewed very favorably by the committee.
The shame of all this is that the worst possible outcome that could have happened for this season will, in all likelihood, actually happen, Penn State will have played just well enough to miss the tournament (by, perhaps, 6-8 teams, depending on whose projection you trust and believe), yet not poorly enough to, in all likelihood, to ensure the Used Car Salesman is canned. Like any great shyster, the Used Car Salesman will have threaded the needle of duplicity and come out clean on the other side. Also, like any great shyster, he needs a vast collection of rubes willing to blindly follow along in lock-step, always believing his schtick, his chicanery and his song-and-dance.
As PT Barnum is often attributed as having said, "There's a sucker born every minute"