|Date of game: 3/21/2012
Pittsburgh (19-16) at Butler (22-14) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The 2012 College Basketball Invitational has reached the semifinals, and tonight the Butler Bulldogs play host to the Pittsburgh Panthers, with the winner advancing to next week's best-of-three championship series.
Though Pittsburgh had its streak of 10 straight NCAA Tournament appearances come to an end this year, its first-ever trip to the CBI has been a successful one thus far -- knocking off Wofford and Princeton to reach tonight's semifinal round. The Panthers have won four of their last six games overall, and one more win will give them 20 on the season.
After missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since exploding onto the national scene a couple years ago, Butler has made an impression in this year's CBI with a win at home versus Delaware, and a triumph on the road against Penn. The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse tonight where they have won 13 of 18 tilts on the campaign.
This games marks a rematch of the 2011 NCAA Tournament Third-Round matchup, where Butler advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 71-70 victory. With respect to the all-time series, the Bulldogs lead by an 8-5 margin.
With an 82-61 victory over Princeton in the quarterfinals, Pittsburgh has now blown out both of its CBI opponents by at least 18 points. The Panthers shot 52.3 percent from the floor, which included nine three-pointers, and they had five players score in double figures, paced by Lamar Patterson (19 points, six boards) and Tray Woodall (15 points, 11 assists). With two more boards, Woodall would have been the first Panther player to tally a triple-double since 1998. Despite missing a large chunk of time due to injury, the junior point guard has been solid this year, averaging 11.5 ppg and 6.2 apg, but in the CBI he has been particularly impressive, producing 15.5 ppg, 10 apg and 6.0 rpg, while draining seven three-pointers. Ashton Gibbs is Pitt's top scorer on the season, netting 15.3 ppg, and Nasir Robinson provides a strong presence in the paint, contributing 10.9 ppg and a team-best 6.8 rpg.
Though the Butler offense hasn't exactly been stellar this season (63.6 ppg, .410 field goal percentage), it has succeeded thanks to a stifling defensive effort (60.5 ppg). The trend continued against Penn, as the Quakers were held to just 37 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 4-of-20 effort from three-point range. Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Ronald Nored was able to hold Ivy League Player of the Year Zack Rosen to just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field. The offense wasn't too shabby either in the victory, as four Bulldogs finished in double figures. Chrishawn Hopkins led the way with 15 points, and although he averages just 9.1 ppg on the year, he's managed to net better than 17 points in the last three. Andrew Smith (10.7 ppg) is the only Butler player to average double figures on the season, while Roosevelt Jones leads the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and Nored brings 5.2 apg and 1.8 spg to the table.
This matchup will ultimately come down to Pitt's hot offense against Butler's stout defense. Though the Panthers have been playing better of late, they have been inconsistent this year, and going on the road to play a hard-nosed team like the Bulldogs does not bode well for their chances to advance.
GAME NOTES: The 2012 College Basketball Invitational has reached the semifinals, and tonight the Butler Bulldogs play host to the Pittsburgh Panthers, with the winner advancing to next week's best-of-three championship series.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: HDNet. CBI Record: Pittsburgh 2-0, Butler 2-0. Series Record: Butler leads, 8-5.Game Date and Time
Wednesday, March 21, 8:00 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Butler 65, Pittsburgh 62