It's rare for the Penn-Princeton matchup to have no Ivy title implications. That said, both teams still have pride on the line: the Quakers (9-21, 6-7 Ivy) are looking to salvage a disappointing season by improving to a .500 record in conference play, while the Tigers (16-11, 9-4) will try to bounce back after suffering defeats on the road against Yale and Brown that ended their Ancient Eight championship hopes. When the two teams meet for what ESPN calls one of the greatest rivalries in college basketball Tuesday night at the Palestra, who will be up and who will be down for Penn basketball?
Tony Hicks: It's hard to be "up" much more than averaging 23.8 points per contest over his last four games, but Hicks to continue his great play against the Tigers. Last time the teams met, Hicks was the lone bright spot for Penn, putting up 16 points in the defeat. Princeton has no defender quick enough to keep up with Hicks, who has only gotten better since their last meeting. The rookie guard is much improved from the free throw line, as he has made 40-for-45 (.889) from the charity stripe since the last Penn-Princeton matchup. With his quickness and shooting prowess, Hicks will likely put up 16+ points against the Tigers Tuesday night.
Darien Nelson-Henry: Despite Princeton sporting a lineup full of trees (no starter for the Tigers stands under 6-5), Nelson-Henry outweighs all of his opposing starters by at least 40 pounds. Combine that with soft hands and developing skills in the post, and the freshman center is in for a good night while carrying the load inside for Penn.
Attendance: A down year for Penn basketball has left the student section at the Palestra relatively empty on many occasions this season. However, a significant uptick in student attendance can be expected against Princeton. If nothing else, students will attend to wear their "Puck Frinceton" shirts and shout epithets at their rival school.
Three-point shooting defense: T.J. Bray buried the Quakers in January by burying six three-pointers on his way to a 23-point performance. Overall, the Tigers knocked down 11 treys while shooting 50 percent from distance. With Ivy League Player of the Year candidate Ian Hummer attracting attention inside the three-point line, the Penn defense will be distracted and end up chasing the ball around the perimeter. The Tigers, who lead the Ancient Eight in assists, will succeed in making the extra pass and finding the open man.
Miles Cartwright: The junior guard struggled to find the bottom of the net against the Tigers last time around, converting just 1-for-7 from the field, and there is no reason to believe anything has changed for him since then. Unlike Hicks, Cartwright does not have the craftiness and agility to create his own shot and slice his way through the Princeton zone defense, and his three-point shooting has rarely been reliable this season. All signs point to Cartwright shooting well below 50 percent once again, though he can give Penn a chance to win by distributing the ball and limiting turnovers.
Turnovers: Over the last three games, Penn has averaged just 13.7 turnovers per contest — a significant improvement from the poor ball handling earlier in the season. Additionally, Princeton ranks second-to-last in steal among the Ivies, which should help the Quakers maintain possession of the ball.
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