Game 1 of the CBI Tournament Finals gets underway tonight with the Pittsburgh Panthers travelling to the northwest to take on the Washington State Cougars. The game is scheduled for a 10:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised live on HDNet. Currently the odds have Washington State favored by 1 point with the total sitting at 132.5 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: The College Basketball Invitational's unique best-of-three championship series kicks off tonight with a pair of Power Six conference schools seeking redemption after less-than-stellar regular seasons, as the Washington State Cougars play host to the Pittsburgh Panthers. Though the regular season may have been Pittsburgh's worst since the turn of the century, it has been able to salvage the campaign with an impressive postseason run. The Panthers defeated both Wofford and Princeton on their home floor by margins of at least 18 points in their first two CBI games, then they went on the road to take down Butler in overtime in the semifinals last Wednesday, 68-62. With its latest win, Pitt has now collected 20 wins or more in each of the past 11 seasons. In the win over Butler the Panthers needed a mlate FG to to tie it at 52, but then they took control in the extra frame, paced by 14 combined points from Patterson and Tray Woodall. Although they shot just 38.1 percent from the field for the game, four players scored in double digits, including Patterson with a solid all-around effort consisting of 13 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block. On the season, Pitt has been an above-average scoring team in the ultra-competitive Big East, ranking sixth in scoring offense (69.4 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (.453). It was also the league's most efficient team on the glass, posting an outstanding rebounding margin of +6.9. The top scorer for the Panthers is Ashton Gibbs, who puts up 14.8 ppg, but he struggles from the field at only 38.3 percent. Woodall nets 11.5 ppg and is a great distributor of the ball (6.1 apg). Nasir Robinson (10.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Patterson (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg) round out the Pittsburgh attack. Much like Pitt, Washington State had a lackluster regular season, finishing below .500 both overall as well as in the Pac-12 Conference. The Cougars have been able to prove that their invite to the CBI was more than warranted however, as they have knocked off San Francisco, Wyoming and fellow league member Oregon State by at least 14 points. WSU is 11-3 in home games this season, including a perfect 6-0 against non-conference opponents. Washington State took control of its semifinal-round matchup against Oregon State early, getting out to a 10-point halftime advantage and never looking back. The Cougars had a solid day offensively, shooting 48.2 percent from the field, including 8-of-15 from three-point range, but the most impressive part of the win was their effort at the defensive end, as they held the Pac-12's most potent scoring attack (79.6 ppg) to a mere 55 points on 19-of-50 field goal efficiency. WSU has been slightly below the Pac-12 standard in both scoring offense (68.6 ppg) and scoring defense (65.8 ppg) this season, ranking seventh in both. The team's greatest strength is at the free-throw line, where it converts 71 percent of the time, good for second in the conference. Brock Motum is the Cougars' centerpiece, as he leads the league in scoring at 18.0 ppg and he adds a team-best 6.4 rpg to the mix, but he may be out for this game (Check staus). Reggie Moore is WSU's answer to Woodall, as he dishes out 5.3 apg, although he isn't nearly as effective at the offensive end (9.6 ppg, .354 FG percentage). These two programs have met just once before, with Pittsburgh winning in a 57-43 final on Nov. 29, 2009 as part of the Legends Classic in Newark, New Jersey.
Free Pick: Gonna go with the Under here. The Cougars do not like to play a fast brand of ball and they do have the ability to slow down the game as evidenced by their last game vs a high scoring OSU team in a game that saw just 127 points scored, while the OL line was in the 150's.The Cougars have been playing awesome defense of late, as they have allowed just 55.6 ppg in their last 5 games, plus they allow just 61.6 ppg at home on 42% shooting. The Cougars do score 72.1 ppg at home on 48% shooting, but this Pitt team comes in playing some good defense at the moment. The Panthers have had all sorts of problems at that end of the floor this year, but in their 5 post season games (Big East and CBI Tourneys) they have allowed just 61.8 ppg on a mere 38.7% shooting. This team has really been focused at that end of the floor, while their offense has picked up a bit of late as they have averaged 71.2 ppg during the post season, but 2 of those games were at home and 2 were on a neutral court. Tonight's game is a true road game and they have averaged just 64.6 ppg on the road and, while in their last game at Butler they were able to score just 52 points during regulation. This will not be a fast paced game and with both teams playing excellent defense I will expect no more than 125 points in this one.
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