The Ivy League meets the ACC Conference when the Princeton Tigers (0-1) face off against the North Carolina State Wolfpack (2-0) in the Ticketcity Legends Classic.
From the small sampling thus far this season, both teams seem to be going in different directions. Last season, Princeton was a team that made it into the NCAA Tournament and took the Kentucky Wildcats to the limit, losing by 2 points in the 2nd round.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, North Carolina State had a sub .500 record and didn't make a post season tournament.
So far this season, Princeton has been defeated by Wagner pretty convincingly and North Carolina State has averaged 87.5 points in their 2 victories.
North Carolina State is a decisive 9.5 point favorite in the NCAA basketball odds for this game. Will this be another high powered offensive attack by N.C. State or can Princeton find the ingredients that made them so successful last season?
Part of the reason for the Tigers decline has been the graduation of two of their top players from last season, leading scorer Kareem Maddox (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 assists,1.8 blocks, 56.8% shooting from the field) and fellow Californian Dan Mavraides (12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists). It's tough for the Ivy League schools at times because even though these players are athletes, they come to the universities for the academics more than other conferences.
Player to watch
For Princeton, it will be junior forward Ian Hummer. After Wednesday's game, Hummer would like to be humming a victory tune. He's a returning productive player that averaged 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds last season on 55.6% shooting from the field. In the defeat to Wagner, Hummer came up big with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. Wagner is a team on the rise, led by Dan Hurley (brother of former Duke great Bobby Hurley and legendary high school coach Bob Hurley Sr.). Princeton could've possibly underestimated Wagner a bit but they'll definitely be tested by the North Carolina Wolfpack and expect Ian Hummer to put his best foot forward against a powerful offensive team.
Look for Princeton to substitute frequently and try to find the most effective combination on the floor. Ian Hummer and Doug Davis (12 points, 2 steals ) are the main sources offense and going to get the PT. Mack Darrow, Will Barrett, and Jimmy Sherburne were effective on the glass and the Tigers will need that against the Wolfpack, but they need someone other than the top 2 players to provide an offensive punch if they want to have any chance of staying in this game and possibly winning.
It's their time
Players are starting to mature on the Wolfpack roster as the top 5 out of 6 scorers are all juniors and seniors. This is a team with experience and you can look for them to make a move this year off of a poor season last year.
At 6 foot 8, 261 pounds, forward #1 Richard Howell is playing like the number on the back of his jersey. In the first two games of the season Howell is averaging 19.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks per game on 55.6% shooting from the field. He's also shooting above 80% from the line, which is what you want from a big body that's going to seek contact often. N.C. State's opponent thus far haven't been a real test but Howell has improved greatly and look for him to take advantage of a weaker Princeton squad.
Howell gets a lot of support from DeShawn Painter ( 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds,2 blocks, 83.3% field goal shooting (2 games)), C.J. Williams ( 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 70% field goal shooting, 40 % 3 point shooting), and Scott Wood (13 points, 58.3% 3 point shooting). Of course, a lot of these numbers are bloated because they're only based off of 2 games but this is an overall good shooting team from the field and from the charity stripe. If this comes down to a free throw shooting contest, Princeton will be in a lot of trouble.
Sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown is the opposite of what most of the leaders on this team are, but he's a perfect fit. He's a player with lesser experience, has a slender 6 foot 5, 186 pound frame, and isn't a great outside shooter. Brown is a ball distributor while adding 9 points per game himself. He's very active with 4.5 steals, 3.5 rebounds, and the assists that I mentioned (7.5 per game). Brown is a real asset for the Wolfpack. He'll benefit the offense and be a shadow on defense, looking to pickpocket any unsuspecting Princeton player.
To sum it up, this is a team that's really matured and will make great strides in the ACC. This could possibly be a poor matchup for Princeton.
Outcome of the game
The Tigers have lost two key players from last season and I don't see them being able to keep up with N.C. State on the offensive and defensive ends. The Wolpack will cover the 9.5 points easily, put 'em in your NCAA basketball picks for Wednesday.
Pick: N.C. State -9.5