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Regular Season Title and Time Off Prepares Lions for Conference Tourney

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been over a week since its last game, but Bob Warming's squad did some celebrating over the weekend after Michigan defeated Michigan State Saturday night to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season crown for the first time since 2005.

8281333.jpeg"On Saturday night I was just watching GameTracker hoping that (Michigan State) would either tie or lose," said senior captain Jacob Barron. "When I saw the goal, the last 15 or 20 minutes I was just waiting and waiting and when it finally happened it was a great feeling."

For the seniors, they were able to earn the conference title, something they all came to Penn State to do. Coming off a 0-6 Big Ten season in 2011, it seemed unlikely, but Warming was able to keep the team focused on their goal of winning the conference, no matter how unlikely it seemed.

"I couldn't believe it at first," said senior captain Brian Forgue. "We needed two things to happen in two separate games on two separate nights with the Indiana vs. Northwestern game and the Michigan vs. Michigan State game."

"Fortunately they both came through and that was a culmination of our hard work this year in the big ten and it was an unbelievable feeling, one that I haven't had since I have been here."

Now the Nittany Lions will move on to the conference tournament on Friday where they will be the No. 1 seed, which means they will get a first round bye. By the time they hit the field in Evanston, Ill. on Friday it will have been nine days since the blue and white took the field.

However, for a team with a few injuries on the defensive side of the ball the extra time off will serve as an advantage. Penn State will be able to get players like Eli Dennis back because of the first round bye, as well as being able to have more days of training.

"I think it actually helps us," said Forgue. "It is going to make the trip a lot easier and we have some time to do the right things nutritionally, get the right amount of rest and come out firing on Friday."

As for who their first round opponent will be, Penn State will face the winner of Michigan State and Indiana, two teams they played very close with in the regular season. Penn State fell to Indiana 1-0 in double overtime in its Big Ten home opener on Sept. 29 and beat the Spartans at home 2-1 on Oct. 14.

Being able to have more than a week to prepare for two teams isn't something that happens often in post-season play, but Forgue, Barron and the Penn State leaders are making sure they can draw every advantage possible from being the number one seed.

"It focuses us," said Forgue. "We can go back to the game plan from both of those games and tighten some things up where we need to. We know we are going to play one of two teams instead of one of six so we will put a good focused game plan together for either team."

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