NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Preview: Princeton vs. Kentucky

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(13)Princeton Tigers vs. (4)Kentucky Wildcats
St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL
Thursday, Mar. 17, 2011
Time: 2:45 pm EST (approx.)
Television: CBS (Ian Eagle, Play-by-Play; Jim Spanarkel, Color; David Aldridge, Sideline).
Radio: TBA
Series History: Kentucky leads 2-1, 1-0 in NCAA

First of all, this isn’t the Second Round. I hate the NCAA. Secondly, Kentucky must deal with a No. 13 seed while Florida gets a No. 15 seed to dispatch of. I hate the NCAA.

First up let’s take a quick look at Kentucky’s storied history in the Big Dance. No team has made more NCAA Tournament appearances than the Kentucky Wildcats, who are in the tournament for the 51st time. In just 10 of their previous 50 appearances has Kentucky saw its Tourney run end without a victory, and lost in its opener. Their only opening loss since 1987 was the 2008 loss to Marquette and the lowest seed Kentucky has lost to in its opener is a No. 11, when Middle Tennessee State upset the sixth-seeded Wildcats way back in 1982. This year they get a No. 13 seed.

And now some quick facts on No. 13 seeds: Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 13 seeds are 22-82 in their first games. At least one 13-over-4 upset has occurred in 19 of the 26 years, including three strait. Any 13-over-4 upset in 2011 would, for the first time, make it four strait years with such an occurrence. So statistically speaking there is cause for concern for ‘Cats fans, and cause for a sigh of relief. But the seed isn’t all that’s important, it’s the team that is associated with it that counts.

For the second strait year the Kentucky Wildcats will face an Ivy League opponent in their quest for an eighth NCAA Championship (Cornell 2010), this time against the Ivy League champion Princeton Tigers in the Fir…”Second” Round. The Tigers made it here courtesy of a buzzer-beater by Douglas Davis to give Princeton the 63-62 win over the Harvard Crimson in a one-game playoff for the Ivy League’s automatic NCAA berth.

This will be Princeton’s 24th NCAA Tournament appearance, an Ivy League record. The Tigers were last in the tournament in 2004, falling to Texas. Princeton owns a 13-27 record in the NCAA Tournament over 23 appearances and have three wins since seeding began in 1979.

Those three wins came in 1983 as a No. 12 seed over the No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, as Barack Obama’s brother-in-law and current Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson co-led the Tigers in scoring with 20 points alongside Rich Simkus. In 1996, in what would be the last of Pete Carril’s 514 victories, a 43-41 victory as the No. 13 seed over the No. 4 seed UCLA. The leading scorer in that game was none other than current Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson. And finally, their last win in 1998 as a No. 5 seed over the No. 12 seed UNLV. Princeton entered the tournament in 1998 at 26-1 (their only loss a 50-42 setback to UNC in Chapel Hill) and fell in the second round to the No. 4 seed Michigan State.

This year’s version of the Tigers may surprise some people who are expecting to see the trademark “Princeton Offense”, a slow-down, back-door cuttin’ fools offense, but Sydney Johnson has Princeton scoring 69.6 points per game – the most for any Tiger team since the 1971-72 season. The 2011 Princeton Tigers are only the third team in school history to reach the 25-win plateau. The previous two both won their First Round NCAA Tournament games. But again, since this is a “Second Round” game, Cats fans need not be worried. Kentucky also sports a 4-0 record against Ivy League schools in the Tourney (Dartmouth ’42, Columbia ’48, Princeton ’77 and Cornell last year).

Princeton’s key players you should be aware of are:

2 • Kareem Maddox • F • Sr. • 6-8 • Oak Park, CA

Maddox has consistently improved his defensive game, upping his block totals freshman to senior year from nine to 16 to 27 and already has 56 this season. His prowess underneath earned him the title of Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection. It isn’t all defense for Maddox, he is also tied for the team lead in scoring (13.9) due in part to his team-high 56.5% field goal shooting. Rebounds? He leads the Tigers in those too, pulling down 7.1 boards a scrap. Assists? Maddox is second on the team, averaging 2.5 dishes a contest. Basically this kid does it all.

34 • Ian Hummer • F • So. • 6-7 • Vienna, VA

Behind Maddox, Hummer is the team’s second leading scorer at 13.9 points, and second leading rebounder with 6.7 boards a game. He is also second on the team behind Maddox in field goal percentage, shooting the rock at a 55.7% clip. All of those shots have come from inside the arc as Hummer has yet to attempt a three point goal this season. He was named to the Second-team All-Ivy this year while compiling five double-doubles, the most for any Tiger since 1979. He plays second fiddle in blocks (35) and steals (34) and ranks third on the team in assists (61). Hummer is a solid player who would get minutes in any conference in America.

33 • Dan Mavraides (mav-RAID-eez) • G • Sr. • 6-4 • San Mateo, CA

Mavraides is the only Tiger to start every game this season. He is 26th on the school’s all-time scoring list at 1,040 points – and is just four points behind head coach Sydney Johnson. Mavraides was named to the Second-team All-Ivy for the second strait season and is the team’s second biggest threat from deep, connecting on 38.6% of his three pointers while making 59 of them. He is averaging 12.7 points per game while leading Princeton in assists, dishing out 87 dimes on the year.

20 • Douglas Davis • G • Jr. • 5-11 • Philadelphia, PA

Davis is the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) without question after hitting the game-winning shot to beat Harvard. But he wasn’t an unknown before that shot. Davis stands fourth on the career 3-point list at Princeton, connecting on 192 deep balls. He is also 16th on the school’s all-time scoring list at 1,097 points scored. He is the team’s biggest threat from deep, leading the Tigers in both 3-pointers made (68) and 3-point field goal percentage (39.5%). He is fourth on the team in scoring, tallying 11.9 points a game to go with his team high 37 steals on the year.

These are the only four Tigers averaging over 21.5 minutes per game, and they all four are playing 30.1 or more. They are also the only four averaging in double digits, with the Tigers next highest point production coming from junior forward Patrick Saunders, who contributes 5.6 points per scrap.

Princeton is a good team. They have the ability, though they haven’t done so too much this year, to slow it down and maybe channel some of that old “Princeton Offense” magic. Though they clearly cannot afford to run with the Wildcats, they may not want to slow it down. In the 10 games Kentucky has allowed 68 or more points this season, the Wildcats hold just a 2-8 record. Conversely, when the Tigers score 68 points or more, they are 15-0.

Again, Princeton is a good team, but they aren’t Kentucky good. The Cats move to 5-0 against the Ivy with an easy Fir..”Second” Round win.

Kentucky 78, Princeton 59