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NCAA Tournament 2011: Princeton vs. Kentucky Preview

The 4th seeded Kentucky Wildcats and 13th seeded Princeton Tigers face off in the second game at the St. Pete Times Forum today. The winner of this East Regional battle will take on the winner of the game between West Virginia and Clemson played earlier in the day.  The is scheduled to tip off at 2:45 p.m. on CBS, and doing the play-by-play today will be Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel.

This will be a clash of cultures and styles today in Tampa. Princeton runs a variation of the Princeton offense that former coach Pete Carill ran to perfection with the Tigers during his era. Princeton will take as much time as needed in their possession to find a hole in the Wildcats defense and send a cutter to the lane for an easy basket. Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins talks about their offense and how it reminds him of last year's contest versus Cornell in the Sweet 16,

I think they're much like a team from our perspective like Cornell last year.  They make you defend the whole 35 seconds.  We just have to be disciplined and watch their every move.

Kentucky will press the Tigers all day offensively, using its size and athleticism to its advantage over the Ivy League champs. With the inexperience of the Wildcats, Calipari's dribble drive motion offense helps find breaks in opponents defensive coverages as the defense collapses on the ball handler in the lane. The Tigers will have to play disciplined defense to make sure guys like Doron Lamb and Darius Long have an open lane to the basket.

Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson was asked about the Kentucky's athletic advantage, and Coach Johnson talked about the keys to keeping them in check,

You've got to take care of the ball.  You can't turn it over and let them capitalize on getting out in transition.  We have to shoot the ball at a high clip.  You know, if we do that, if there's limited possessions but we're shooting it well, all of a sudden all that athleticism gets neutralized.

Kentucky comes in as a 14-point favorite, but I think it will be much closer than that. As our Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue points out, Princeton is a quality team who shoots the ball and rebounds extremely well. I think Kentucky pulls away late, but don't be surprised if the final isn't decided until the final minutes.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.