Following a disappointing 60-46 loss to St. Peter’s University (4-6 overall), men’s basketball (3-7) will turn to a full slate of winter break contests. The Tigers will face four opponents, two home and two away, before the beginning of reading period. This non-conference section of the schedule ideally provides Princeton an opportunity to offensive and defensive efficiency in anticipation of the 14-game Ivy League schedule, which begins on Jan. 10versus Penn.
First on the schedule is a trip to Berkeley, Calif. to face California’s Golden Bears (7-1) this Saturday. Junior guard Tyrone Wallace has been a big part of his team’s impressive start. He received Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the second time in four weeks for his 25.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game over a pair of wins this past weekend.
The Golden Bears, currently ranked 118thon the Ratings Percentage Index, will provide Princeton with perhaps its toughest test of the season. A rebounding margin of +6.1 is just one category in which they have significantly outpaced opponents. Their field goal conversion percentage of 46.6 compares very favorably with an opponent’s percentage of 36.3.
The following Friday, Lipscomb (3-5) will travel to Jadwin Gymnasium for the first of Princeton’s two home games. At this point in the season, the Bisons have won all but one of their home games while dropping all four of their away games.
Lately, the Tigers have sent opponents to the free throw line at a fairly high rate of 19.8 attempts allowed per game. Luckily for them, Lipscomb cannot consistently convert from the charity stripe, having made an abysmal 60.7 percent.
Next in line for Princeton is Liberty University (3-5). Last season marked the first meeting of these two teams, during which senior guard/forward Ben Hazel tallied a career-high 18 points. The Tigers ended up on top by a margin of 80-74.
Liberty currently ranks within the bottom ten teams in Division I’s Rating Percentage Index. The Flames play in the Big South Conference, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.
A combination of competent perimeter defense and the weakness of their competition has produced a three-point conversion percentage of 25.3 among their opponents. Even more evidence of their adversaries’ incompetence is a free throw conversion rate of 62.8.
On the offensive end, the Flames have surrendered the ball at an unsustainable rate of 17.6 turnovers per game.
Princeton should not have much difficulty outmatching this non-conference opponent, but will face a tough test with Wake Forest University (4-5). The Demon Deacons rank 195thin the RPI and, like the Golden Bears, consistently outrebound their opponents.
Should the Tigers hope to suceed in the coming weeks, they will need to improve their perimeter efficiency margin. A three-pointer conversion percentage of 37.4 surpasses last year’s mark of 35.9. However, opponents are shooting a devastating 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Clay Wilson, junior forward Hans Brase and sophomore guard Spencer Weisz are the three Princeton players to have a 3-point percentage above 40 with marks of 44.1, 41.0 and 48.7.
Weisz, who has emerged as the offensive centerpiece after the graduation of guard TJ Bray ’14, has had his scoring rate taper off of late. Stony Brook University and St. Peter’s, Princeton’s last two opponents, held the sophomore standout to just 9 and 6 points.
The Tigers’ home games will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network, while the contests with California and Wake Forest will appear on the Pac-12 Network and ESPN3, respectively.