Quinnipiac (18-13) at Penn (19-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Palestra (8,700) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. CBI Record: Quinnipiac 0-0, Penn 0-0. Series Record: Penn leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After letting its chance at an Ivy League title slip away in the final game of the regular season, the Penn Quakers will have to settle for a spot in the College Basketball Invitational. Penn gets its postseason underway this evening with a first-round matchup with the Quinnipiac Bobcats at The Palestra.
Penn won seven straight games going into its regular-season finale against Princeton and with a win in that game would have forced a one-game playoff with Harvard for the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for the Quakers they were unable to overcome their conference rival in a 62-52 loss to post a 19-12 overall record.
Quinnipiac lost to eventual champion Long Island its last time out during the Northeast Conference Tournament. The loss came after a three-game winning streak for the Bobcats, who finished the year with a respectable 18-13 record.
These teams have met only once before with Penn taking a 74-60 win over Quinnipiac during the 2004-2005 season. This is the first appearance in the CBI for both teams.
Quinnipiac hung in with top-ranked Long Island in its loss in the Northeast Conference Tournament semifinals last week. The Bobcats surrendered a 12-4 run in the final minutes that gave the Blackbirds enough separation to finish off the Bobcats.
James Johnson (16.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) became Quinnipiac's all-time leading scorer earlier this season and has turned in a solid senior campaign in doing so. Johnson finished in the top 10 in the conference in scoring and assists. Ike Azotam (15.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg) is right behind Johnson in terms of scoring this season, while tying for the top spot in the NEC in rebounding. The sophomore forward is also one of the better players in conference at finishing around the basket, ranking fifth in field goal percentage (.561) this year. Dave Johnson (8.8 ppg) is a distant third in terms of scoring on a team that averages 71.2 ppg. With Azotam's efforts the Bobcats did finished the season as the conferences best rebounding squad (43.5 rpg), the second best mark in the nation behind only North Carolina.
Penn couldn't dig itself out after a poor offensive first half against Princeton in the regular season finale after the Quakers managed only 17 points in the first 20 minutes. Overall in the game the Quakers shot 38.6 percent from the floor, while allowing Princeton to convert on 58.3 percent of its shots.
The Quakers have benefited all season from having the Ivy League's highest scoring player in Zach Rosen (18.5 ppg, 5.2 apg). The senior guard has filled it up all season and has scored in double figures in 15 straight games and has had at least 19 points in each of the last five games. Rosen has not only been a prolific scorer but an effective distributor as well, ranking third in the conference in assists this season. Tyler Bernardini (12.2 ppg) is the team's second leading scorer, although he has struggled of late. With Bernardini struggling, the Quakers need scoring production from Miles Cartwright (10.3 ppg) and Rob Belcore (7.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
Quinnipiac has some clear advantages in this matchup with the much stronger rebounding team as well as a deeper scoring pool. Despite playing on the road the combo of Azotam and Johnson should present enough firepower to keep up with Rosen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Quinnipiac 71, Penn 67
03/14 10:35:20 ET