No. 8. Pitt Panthers [24-8] vs No. 9. Wichita State [26-8] 1:40 PM EST TBS
The match-up: The Pittsburgh Panthers lost a 62-59 decision last time out to Syracuse where they built a big first half deficit and then came back only to miss free throws down the stretch. They hope for a better start against a Wichita State team that many argue should not be in the tournament. Both teams can play 10 players effectively and have good rebounding advantages over their opponent. Wichita State lost their last time out 68-65 to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. The winner of this match-up will play either top seeded Gonzaga or 16th seeded Southern.
Pittsburgh 24-8 [12-6 Big East]
G #0 James Robinson [FR] 6.1 ppg 2.3 rpg
G #1 Tray Woodall [redshirt SR] 11.8 ppg 2.5 rpg
SF #21 Lamar Patterson [redshirt JR] 10 ppg 4 rpg
PF #42 Talib Zanna [redshirt JR] 9.8 ppg 6 rpg
C #13 Steven Adams [FR] 7 ppg 6.2 rpg
Wichita State 26-8 [12-6 MVC]
G #5 Demetric Williams [SR] 8.3 ppg 2.7 rpg
G #32 Tekele Cotton [SO] 6.3 ppg 3.9 rpg
G #2 Malcolm Armstead [SR] 10.4 ppg 3.7 rpg
F #22 Carl Hall [SR] 12.8 ppg 7.2 rpg
C #21 Ehimen Orukpe [SR] 2.8 ppg 4.5 rpg
Of note: Wichita State’s leading scorer Early Cleanthony leads the team with 13.6 points and comes off of the bench.
If Pitt wins it will be because:
1. Rebounding- Numbers do not lie. When the Panthers can out-rebound opponents, they get wins. The battle in the paint will be huge.
2. Quick start offense- Pitt got off to the wrong start against Syracuse and it cost them. The first five minutes may determine the outcome of the game.
3. Free throws- Pitt has had their struggles from the free throw line and these miscues need to be fixed.
If Wichita State wins it will be because:
1. My 10 deep is better than your 10 deep- Both teams can rotate players and utilize their benches effectively but Wichita State needs to outlast Pitt’s 10.
2. Battle in the paint- Steven Adams, Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor can create match-up problems but the Shockers big men need to muscle up and get the rebounds.
3. Force Panthers turnovers- Pitt is very smart with the basketball. If you can force them to make mistakes, it opens up your offense and forces Pitt to press a little more.
Free throw shooting
Who to foul
Steven Adams 42.4%
Trey Ziegler 49%
Cameron Wright 57.1%
Chadrack Lufile 40%
Ehimen Orukpe 41%
Tekele Cotton 54.2%
Who not to foul
J.J. Moore 81.5%
James Robinson 78.4%
Tray Woodall 78.1%
Early Cleanthony 78.9%
Malcolm Armstead 77%
Demetric Williams 76.6%
He said it:
Talib Zanna on Wichita State- “We expect a lot from them. They’re a real physical team, we played them two years ago and I remember we beat them and then played Texas. It’s going to be an interesting game.”
Prediction: I do believe this will be a competitive game because these teams are similar in some ways they play. I do feel that the Panthers experience in the tournament will help them out. I’ll give them a 64-57 victory in this one.