Princeton looks to keep its Cinderella story going in the Sweet Sixteen when they take on the Creighton Bluejays.
#6 Creighton Bluejays (23-10) vs #15 Princeton Tigers (23-8)
How to Watch:
- DATE: Friday, March 24th
- TIME: 9:00 p.m. ET
- CHANNEL: TBS
- MONEYLINE: CRE (-480) PRI (+380)
- SPREAD: CRE -9.5
- TOTAL: 139
Tale of the Tape:
|76.7 (67th)||Points Per Game||75.5 (95th)|
|68.5 (132nd)||Points Allowed Per Game||67.9 (116th)|
|143rd||KenPom Adjusted Tempo||193rd|
|23rd||KenPom Off Ranking||100th|
|13th||KenPom DEF Ranking||
|12th||KenPom Strength of Schedule||
- Ryan Kalkbrenner, C: 15.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2.2 BPG, 70.6% FG
- Baylor Scheierman, G: 12.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 35.5% 3PT
- Tosan Evbuomwan, F – 15.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 52.4%% FG
- Ryan Langborg Jr. F – 12.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 32.2% 3PT
After winning the Ivy League Tournament, Princeton began their Cinderella run at the NCAA Tournament by beating 2nd-seed Arizona in the first round and then dominating the Missouri Tigers from start to finish in the second round.
Yet, in reality, the Tigers didn’t actually play that well in their first-round win over Arizona. They shot just 40.6% from the field and 4-for-25 from 3-point range in a fairly mediocre offensive performance. It was their defense that helped carry them, limiting the Wildcats to just three made shots beyond the arc, while forcing Arizona into 13 turnovers.
In the second round against Missouri, the Princeton offense got going a bit. Guard Ryan Langborg led the team with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, and the team held Missouri to 41% from the field and 27.3% shooting from deep.
However, the task will be significantly tougher against a Creighton team that is a top-25 program on both offense and defense according to KenPom’s efficiency metrics. The Bluejays score 76.8 points per game — doing so against tougher competition than Princeton faced — while allowing only 67.9 points per contest.
Creighton is also an incredibly deep team with five scorers averaging over 11.8 points per game. They’re led by 7’1″ junior center Ryan Kalkbrenner who led the team with 15.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game this season. Kalkbrenner scored 31 points in the first-round victory over NC State, but it was guard Ryan Nembhard who paced the Bluejays in the second round, scoring 30 points in the win over Baylor.
In games like that when Kalkbrenner draws double-teams down low, it leaves one of Creighton’s other four top scorers open on the perimeter. Trey Alexander, Arthur Kaluma, Baylor Scheierman, and Nembhard all averaged between 11.8 and 13.6 points per game this season. Scheierman also leads the team in rebounding with 8.4 rebounds per game, so it’s tough to find just one player to start.
Princeton’s main catalyst is big man Tosan Evbuomwan, a 6’8″ bruiser who is a heavy-usage player and pushes opposing defenders around down low. He had 15 points and seven rebounds against Arizona but had a bit of a tougher go against 6’8″ 250-pound Missouri big man Kobe Brown, who held Evbuomwan to nine points.
Princeton guards Langborg, Matt Allocco, and Blake Peters helped carry the Tigers into the Sweet Sixteen and are the team’s best three-point shooters, while forward Keeshawn Kellman is often the Tigers’ second-most utilized player; however, this team doesn’t really have the scoring that Creighton does with only Langborg and Evbuomwan averaging over 11 points per game.
Creighton likely has too many offensive weapons and too much size on the interior for Princeton. The Tigers forced an inconsistent Missouri team to rely on their jump-shooting in the last round, but Creighton isn’t going to simply rely on one offensive tactic to win a game. They can beat you in a number of ways and they feel like a safe bet to do so again here.
If you’re looking for a better angle then playing the OVER on 139 points makes some sense. Princeton has played to totals of above 140 in 10 of its last 13 games while Creighton has gone above a total of 140 in nine of its last 10 games. That makes the over seem like an attractive bet.
For NCAA tournament coverage like this Princeton preview, visit amNY Sports
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