History of Penn State Basketball at The Garden

Story posted January 29, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan Leonardo

Madison Square Garden, also known as MSG and The Garden, opened on Feb. 11, 1968, making it the oldest sporting facility in the New York metro area. It would not be long for Penn State to be invited to play at The Garden, as they participated in the ECAC Holiday Classic during the 1971-72 season. From December 27-29 they played Providence, Utah and Syracuse.

They dropped the opener to Providence 81-65, but were able to bounce back against Utah, winning 80-69. They finished the Holiday Classic with a 1-2 record after losing the finale to Syracuse, 92-77. Four seasons later, Penn State returned to MSG, defeating Fairfield 76-68 during the 1976-76 season.

During the 1989-90, Penn State made their fourth appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT. Penn State defeated Marquette, Maryland and Rutgers to advance to the semifinals, which would take place at The Garden. Penn State lost in the semis against Vanderbilt 75-62, but would defeat New Mexico 83-81 in overtime to finish in third place.

Five years later, Penn State was once again entered the NIT and finished with similar results to their fourth trip. After topping Miami, Nebraska and Iowa, Penn State entered the semis. Playing at Madison Square Garden, Penn State lost to Marquette 81-79. However, they once again captured third place after defeating Canisius 66-62.

During the 1997-98 season, Penn State once again reached the semifinals of the NIT to be held at The Garden. This time Penn State reached the finals by conquering Georgia 66-60. However, Penn State lost in the finals to Minnesota 79-72 at MSG.

During the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons, Penn State would play at Madison Square Garden four times, all in 2000. The first and second were during their eighth trip to the NIT, where they would reach the semifinals, but were routed by Notre Dame 73-52. Penn State defeated N.C. State 74-72 at The Garden to claim third place. The third and fourth times were during their return to the ECAC Holiday Classic, where they defeated both Princeton and Hofstra.

Penn State made their tenth appearance at the NIT during the 2008-09 season, where they once again made the semifinals. At MSG, Penn State defeated Notre Dame 67-59 to reach the finals where they faced Baylor. Penn State defeated Baylor 69-63, as the Nittany Lions left Madison Square Garden as something they never had been in the program’s history, a national tournament champion.

When Penn State faces Michigan on Saturday, they will return to the floor where they claimed one of their basketball program’s most important victories.

Ryan Leonardo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jimmmzerx@yahoo.com