Matt Steinbrink Panther-lair.com Basketball Analyst
Princeton vs. Pitt
Pitt's win over Wofford means the Panthers advance to the second round in the College Basketball Invitational, and that game will be played tonight when Pitt hosts Princeton at the Petersen Events Center. The Tigers had a 20-11 overall record this season and went 10-4 to finish third in the Ivy League behind Harvard and Penn; during the season, though, Princeton won home games against Harvard and Penn. Princeton opened CBI play with a 95-86 win over Evansville behind 31 points from senior guard Douglas Davis.
Davis is the second-leading scorer for Princeton on the year and he went off in their opening round CBI win against Evansville. He shot 9-11 from the floor on his way to a 31-point game. Davis is averaging 13.5 points per game and has averaged double figures in all four of his seasons. The 5'11 senior from Philly hardly produces any assists and is more of a scoring guard. He is the main outside threat, converting 77 three-point field goals, forty more than the second player on the team. He shoots 41% from behind the arc and is a solid basketball player. Woodall shot the ball well against Wofford but has been inconsistent at best for months.
Bray is a tall guard at 6'6 and 205 pounds. He will have a significant size advantage on Gibbs but he not an elite athlete either. He is averaging 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a team-leading 3.7 assists per game. Bray is a sophomore that probably has not guarded many players like Gibbs. Gibbs didn't have a big game against Wofford but he has had a tendency to break out for a few games here and there this season. Now would be the ideal time for Gibbs to go on another one of his scoring streaks.
Princeton's impressive size continues all the way down the starting lineup. Saunders is a 6'8 senior that averages 6.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He doesn't shoot a lot but when he does, he is very efficient. Saunders is shooting 48% from the floor, 41% from three, and 83% from the free throw line. Luckily for Lamar, Saunders isn't a big rebounder so the size difference shouldn't be much of a factor.
Hummer is Princeton's leading scorer and best player. The 6'7 junior is averaging 16.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.4 steals. Evidenced by the numbers, Hummer pretty much does it all for the Tigers. He is not a huge threat from outside the arc, but that is the lone part of his game that shouldn't scare Pitt fans. Robinson will have his hands full defensively, trying to force Ian out of his play-making role.
Connolly is a big, imposing center at 6'11 and 252 pounds. His numbers are comparable to Taylor's in his 18.6 minutes per game. Connolly is a junior that is still raw and not an effective low-post scorer but he is converting at a rate of 56% from the field. His 3.7 rebounds per game in nearly 19 minutes is also just average for a center. Dante Taylor has grabbed a total of two rebounds in the last two games, spanning a total of 38 minutes. That statistic for a 6'9 junior center is almost beyond comprehension.
Depth: Princeton Bench vs. Pitt Bench
Head Coach Mitch Henderson plays about seven or eight players. Mack Darrow is the leading reserve, seeing 21.4 minutes per game and scoring 6.9 points and grabbing 3.6 rebounds. The 6'9 junior splits time in the frontcourt and is a steady contributor off of the bench. Denton Koon is the other main reserve for the Tigers. The 6'10 freshman is getting 15.9 minutes per game and averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Princeton is not a very deep team but their bench is big. They rely on both forwards to provide minutes inside. JJ Moore continues to be one of Pitt's best players, working off of the bench and providing instant offense. He is by far the most talented player off of either bench in this contest. Talib Zanna has also been slightly better than Dante Taylor. Many had thought playing in the CBI would mean more minutes for Pitt's young reserves but that doesn't appear to be the case. Regardless, Pitt is deeper and has more firepower to go to.
Henderson has done a nice job with his Princeton Tigers program. They nearly won at NC State, losing 60-58. They also won at Rutgers, at Florida State, and at home against Harvard. Comparing another common opponent, Princeton split with Penn, who Pitt happened to beat early on in the year. This Princeton team is very dangerous but Jamie Dixon appears to still have his team focused even though they are playing in the CBI.
Princeton vs. Pitt
While it's true that the CBI tournament won't count for much in the history of Pitt's basketball program, winning each game will give Dixon more practice time and more games. Since that was the point behind entering the CBI in the first place, then Pitt might as well make a goal of winning. Davis will provide a difficult matchup and Hummer can be a load down low, but if Pitt can build on its performance against Wofford, the Panthers should advance to the semifinals.