FACTS & STATS: Site: Renaissance Coliseum (4,200) -- Peoria, Illinois. Television: None. CIT Record: Green Bay 0-0, Bradley 3-1. Series Record: Bradley leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Green Bay Phoenix and the Bradley Braves square off on Wednesday night in the first round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Illinois.
Green Bay fell victim to a buzzer-beating field goal in its 70-69 defeat to Valparaiso in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament to dash its NCAA Tournament dreams, but it still put together a solid campaign at 18-15 overall. The Phoenix have never before played in the CIT and haven't appeared in the postseason since 2010.
Bradley (16-16) spoiled a strong start to the season by going just 4-9 over its final 13 games, including an 81-66 loss at the hands of Drake in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Braves have made 35 postseason appearances in their history, which includes a run to the championship game of the inaugural CIT back in 2009.
Bradley won the only previous meeting between these two squads with a 66-60 decision in January of 1973.
The Phoenix put forth an outstanding effort against No. 1 seed Valparaiso in their latest game, shooting 52.8 percent from the field and leading the game in the waning seconds before the Crusaders advanced after connecting on a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer. Keifer Sykes nearly led his team to the upset with a career-night, shooting 11-of-20 from the floor for 31 points to go with six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Alex Brown was also impressive in the setback with 15 points. While Green Bay's offensive attack has been modest at best (66.0 ppg), it has bolstered a winning record by playing great defense, yielding just 62.6 ppg to opponents. Sykes is not only the team's leading scorer with 15.8 ppg, but he has handed out 4.3 apg and is an outstanding free-throw shooter (155-of-188, .824). Brown is a steady force in the paint with 13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 1.8 bpg.
The Braves came out flat in their 15-point loss to Drake in the MVC Tournament, allowing the Bulldogs to make 50 percent of their field goal attempts while getting outscored from the foul line, 15-5. Jake Eastman and Will Egolf both netted 15 points while combining for 15 rebounds, Walt Lemon, Jr. tallied 14 points, six assists and three steals, and Tyshon Pickett netted 11 points in the setback. Much like Green Bay, Bradley has a rather mediocre offense, scoring just under 67 ppg, but it doesn't possess a defensive game plan as strong as the Phoenix (67.7 ppg). Lemon, Jr. is the catalyst, pouring in 15.4 ppg while also dishing out a team-high 3.6 apg. Dyricus Simms-Edwards brings 12.2 ppg to the table, and both he and Lemon, Jr. are strong perimeter defenders with a combined 154 steals (4.8 pg). Pickett scores 10.8 ppg and hauls in 5.4 rpg.
Green Bay has performed much better than Bradley over the past six weeks, and even though it has to travel for this matchup, it should still be able to overtake a struggling Braves squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Green Bay 65, Bradley 61
03/20 10:31:57 ET
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