Braves challenge Panthers in second round of NCAA Tournament
(Sports Network) – The 13th-seeded Bradley Braves try to play the role of
spoiler once again, when they take on the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh
Panthers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s Oakland Regional
from the Palace of Auburn Hills today. The winner will move on to face either
Memphis or Bucknell in the Sweet 16 on March 24th. The Braves opened tourney
play with a bang, as they pulled off one of the biggest upsets of this
year’s event, knocking of fourth-seeded Kansas, 77-73, on Friday. The win
improved Bradley to 11-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, and marked its first
win in the event since 1986. This is the Braves’ eighth all-time
appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since 1996.
As for Pitt, it had little trouble in its opening game, posting a solid
79-64 victory over 12th-seeded Kent State on Friday. The Panthers, who are
making their school-record fifth straight appearance in this event, improved
to 15-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with the win, and also advanced
to the second round for the fourth time in five years. With regard to the
all-time series between these two schools, Bradley owns a 4-1 edge, although
the teams haven’t met since the early 1950’s.
The Braves shot 44.2 percent from the field and knocked down 11-of-21 three-
pointers, as they upset Kansas in the first round of the tournament on Friday.
Bradley also forced 18 turnovers from which the club scored 22 points.
Marcellus Sommerville led the charge, as he posted 21 points and seven
rebounds. Will Franklin added 14 points and six assists off the bench, while
Daniel Ruffin had 11 points and seven assists in the winning cause.
On the year, Sommerville is the club’s top scorer at 15.5 ppg and he is also
ripping down 6.8 rpg. Patrick O’Bryant has formed a solid tandem with him in
the low post and is contributing 13.0 ppg and a team-high 8.1 rpg. Tony
Bennett adds 10.9 ppg for the Braves, who are averaging 71.7 ppg on 44.4
percent shooting from the field.
The Panthers shot an unconscious 67.4 percent from the floor, including a 6-
of-14 effort from long range, as they cruised past Kent State in the first
round of the tourney on Friday. Pitt also clamped down on defense, holding the
Golden Flashes to a lackluster 39.0 percent shooting performance from the
field. Aaron Gray notched a double-double with 17 points and 13 points in the
victory, and also made all six of his field goal attempts. Ronald Ramon added
16 points, while Carl Krauser contributed 11 points and nine assists for the
Krauser has been outstanding for Pitt this season, as he leads the team in
scoring (14.9 ppg), assists (4.8 apg) and steals (53). He is also
collecting 4.2 rpg and shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc. Gray has
provided the club with a big-time presence in the paint and is averaging a
double-double with 13.9 ppg and a team-high 10.7 rpg. As a collective unit,
the Panthers are outrebounding their opponents by 7.9 rpg this season, while
also holding them to just 62.8 ppg.