Trey Woodall leads a balanced Pitt attack. He is a pass first point guard with the ability to score as well. Pitt prefers to play at a slower pace than most teams and he has the ball in his hands a lot and will be in charge of making decisions as the shot clock is winding down. When he or another wing player does miss an outside shot their will usually be two aggressive big men crashing the offensive boards. Talib Zanna and Steven Adams are far from polished offensively however they hit the boards ferociously and can help extend possessions. Junior Lamar Patterson is a strong all-around player capable of scoring on the drive or via a spot up jump shot. Coach Jamie Dixon consistently has winning teams that defend every possession and don’t turn over the ball and this team is no different. He plays ten players that average over eleven minutes a game which is extremely rare in big time college basketball.
The Shockers are led by six foot eight junior Cleanthony Early who averages close to 14 points per game. He is also a strong defender capable of guarding in the paint or even on the perimeter. Big man Carl Hall is a bruiser on the inside who scores in double figures and averages seven rebounds a game. He is a shot blocking threat and is good at avoiding foul trouble for an aggressive player. Freshman Ron Baker is back from a stress fracture in his foot and played well in their conference tournament. He could have a big impact on their success. Senior Malcolm Armstead is their leading assist man and the team leader. He will have decision making responsibilities late in games and has shown he can handle it. They say that rebounding wins games and the Shockers rank 27th in men’s NCAA division 1 with 38 per game while Pitt ranks 139th in that category. Neither team is proficient or even takes many three point shots. Pittsburg is capable of blowing teams out with the ability to transition from offense to defense while Wichita State has only had 5 double digit wins all season. Shocker coach Greg Marshall has done a tremendous job rebuilding this team after losing all five starters from last season’s successful team to graduation. Kentucky lost all five of its starters as well and did not make the dance so they are an example of how difficult that can be. To achieve that feat at the mid major level is quite an accomplishment and a reflection on the coach and his staff. It is a difficult game to call as we have two teams that match up fairly well.
It will come down to Pitt being able to keep the Shockers off the boards and out of the paint. If they can keep the battle on the boards even or simply close to it, they should be able to use their grit and experience to pull out the win.
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