Breaking Down No. 1 Pittsburgh vs No. 8 Butler

Round 3: Southeast Region

No. 1 Pittsburgh (28-5) vs No. 8 Butler (24-9)
When: 7:10 p.m. | Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC |
TV: TBS | Radio: 93.7 The Fan, Westwood One
Odds: Pittsburgh -7.5
Pittsburgh Previous Game: Defeated No. 16 UNC-Asheville, 74-51, on Thursday afternoon at the Verizon Center in the Southeast Region. Ashton Gibbs led Pitt with 26 points and the Panthers dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 50-27.
Butler Previous Game: Defeated No. 9 Old Dominion, 60-58, on a putback at the buzzer from Matt Howard. In the win, Butler became just the second team this season to out-rebound Old Dominion, the best rebounding team in the nation.

Pittsburgh By The Numbers

74.1 Points Per Game
61.0 Points Allowed Per Game
FG Percentage: .474 | FG Allowed: .395
3PT Percentage: .390 | 3PT Allowed: .321
FT Percentage: 67.4%

Butler By The Numbers

72.8 Points Per Game
64.7 Points Allowed Per Game
FG Percentage: .446 | FG Allowed: .427
3PT Percentage: .361 | 3PT Allowed: .329
FT Percentage: 73%

Pittsburgh Starting Five | Stat Leaders

1. Ashton Gibbs | 6-2, 190 lb. JR | Position: Shooting Guard
17.0 ppg – 2.7 apg – 2.3 rpg – FT% .889 – 3p% .488 |
Tourney Buzz: The Panthers sharpshooter continues his hot stroke from 3-point range, hitting 6 of 9 three pointers and leading Pitt with 26 points in their 74-51 victory over UNC Asheville.
2. Brad Wanamaker | 6-4, 210 lb. SR | Position: Guard
11.8 ppg – 5.1 apg – 5.2 rpg – FT% .753 – 3P% .333
Tourney Buzz: Wanamaker had a quiet day in Pitt’s opener, collecting 6 points on 2 of 3 shooting from the floor. Wanamaker added 3 assists but was tied with a team-higher 3 turnovers in the win.
3. Gary McGhee | 6-11, 250 lb. SR | Position: Center
6.9 ppg – 0.3 apg – 7.7 rpg – FT% .489
Tourney Buzz: Gary McGhee led the way inside against the Bulldogs, leading Pitt with 11 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards. McGhee added 6 points in the victory.
4. Gilbert Brown | 6-6, 215 lb. SR | Position: Forward
10.9 ppg – 2.7 apg – 4.4 rpg – FT% .788 – 3P% .394
Tourney Buzz: Gilbert Brown had a solid performance to open the tournament but he’s a player Pitt needs more consistency from for them to get past Butler tonight. In Pitt’s opener, Brown collected 9 points and 9 rebounds, while going 4-for-4 from the line. A knock on Brown’s play against the Bulldogs was committing 3 turnovers and going 2-8 from the field, including 1-5 from three point range.
5. Nasir Robinson | 6-5, 220 lb., JR | Position: Forward
9.1 ppg – 1.3 apg – 5.0 rpg – FT% .527
Tourney Buzz: When Pitt is going, Nasir Robinson is usually a focal point at both ends of the floor. Robinson had 12 points and 3 rebounds against UNC-Asheville. Robinson shot 50% from the floor but continues to struggle from the line, going 4-8.

Butler Starting Five | Stat Leaders

1. Matt Howard | 6-8, 230. SR | Position: Forward
16.7 ppg – 1.5 apg – 7.8 rbp – FT% .784 – 3P% .437
Tourney Buzz: Howard’s put back at the buzzer, led Butler to a thrilling 60-58 victory over No. 9 Old Dominion in the Southeast Region. Howard had a stat line of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the victory.
2. Shelvin Mack | 6-3, 215 lb., JR | Position: Guard
15.2 ppg – 3.7 apg – 4.5 rpg – FT% .802 – 3P% .337
Tourney Buzz: Mack had 15 points and 5 assists in Butler 60-58 win over Old Dominion.
3. Andre Smith | 6-11, 239 lb. SO | Position: Center
9.0 ppg – 0.5 apg – 5.5 rpg – FT% .727
Tourney Buzz: A McGhee – Smith matchup will be a key matchup to watch tonight. Smith is a solid defender down low who also has some ability inside on the offensive end, giving Butler another viable option down low. Smith had 11 points and 6 rebounds in the Tournament opener.
4. Shawn Vanzant | 6-0, 172 lb. SR | Position: Point Guard
8.1 ppg – 1.6 apg – 3.2 rpg – FT% .727 – 3P% .437
Tourney Buzz: Vanzant is not a guy who going to be a true difference maker at the offensive end but he is a weapon for Butler from 3-point range. A solid defender and is responsible with the ball. Vanzant had 8 points in the opener.
5. Chase Stigall | 6-4, 195 lb. SO | Position: Small Forward
4.1 ppg – 0.8 apg – 1.8 rpg – FT% .500 – 3P% .343
Tourney Buzz: Stigall is not a player who creates his own shot but has some ability from 3-point range. That is the only area he could hurt the Panthers. Stigal was pointless against Old Dominion.

Game Buzz/Analysis: Will Butler knock off No. 1 Pitt?

I felt coming into Thursday’s opening games that Butler not Old Dominion would be a worse matchup for Pitt, despite all of the hype surrounding Old Dominion.
All signs point towards a close contested game where I feel Butler has a very strong shot of knocking off Pitt..

What to Watch For

— Butler boast a great 1-2 punch in Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Both have the ability to pose matchup problems for Pitt inside and on the perimeter.
— The knock on Butler coming into the tournament has been their defensive game not on par with last years told. They are on a 10 game winning streak and their man-to-man defense is rounding back into form and showing signs of last years play that carried them to the national championship.
— A key matchup will be Ashton Gibbs vs bench player Ronald Nored who will likely draw the assignment of slowing down Gibbs. Nored is an excellent defender and Butler’s ability to slow down Gibbs could dictate today’s winner. Gibbs is shooting the ball excellent of late.
— The surprise outcome of the Butler-Old Dominion game was Butler beating the Monarchs on the boards, most notably on the offensive end, 15-12. They face a tough task once again against a Pittsburgh team that relies on crashing the glass. If Butler can have the same kind of success they did on Thursday, an upset could be in the making.
— Foul trouble for both teams will be an area to watch. Butler struggles when Matt Howard doesn’t stay out of trouble, which has been a problem for him at times this year.
For Pitt, Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson need to stay out of foul trouble.
Butler has a very thin front court and if Howard gets in foul trouble, Pitt should exploit them, most notably on the boards.
— Nasir Robinson could be the key player for Pitt offensively. I don’t see Gibbs getting the kind of offensive looks he’s been accustomed too of late and when Pitt’s going well offensively, Robinson’s versatility inside is usually a main factor. He needs to be in that 11-14 point range for Pitt tonight.
— I’m very intrigued by the matchup inside of Gary McGhee and Andre Smith. McGhee is a more polished rebounded but Smith matches up well against McGhee.
— Pitt’s achilles heel coming into the tournament that many believe could come back to haunt them is their free throw shooting. In a close game, which I believe we will see tonight, Pitt’s ability at the line will likely be on display.
— Pitt needs to win the turnover battle. It was their downfall against UConn in the Big East Tournament and they didn’t take care of the ball that well against UNC-Asheville, committing 12 turnovers, including 8 turnovers in the first half, which kept the game close.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

Comments Disabled

Comments have been disabled for this post.