Posted on: January 18, 2009 9:04 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2009 9:04 pm

Pittsburgh Panthers Game Preview

#1 Pittsburgh Panthers 16-1 (4-1 BE)

Pittsburgh Starting Lineup:
G LeVance Fields Sr.
G Jermaine Dixon Fr.
F Sam Young Sr.
F Tyrell Biggs Sr.
F DeJuan Blair Soph.

Key Bench Players:
G Brad Wanamaker Soph.
G/F Gilbert Brown Soph.
G Ashton Gibbs Fr.
C Gary McGhee Fr.

Previous Game:  Pitt lost its first game 69-63 at Louisville Saturday.  After having a double digit lead in the 2nd half, they let it slip away due to foul trouble.  Earl Clark led the Cardinals charge with 16 points and 11 boards, Terrence Williams had 20 points and 7 boards.  Freshman Jermaine Dixon led Pitt with a career high 19 points, Sam Young had just 14 points and was just 6-20 from the field.

Game Preview:  PItt is coming off its first loss of the season on Saturday and there is really no way to know how they will respond.  Based on the fact that Pitt boasts one of the best coaches in the BE, one of the most veteran teams in the COUNTRY and is playing at home, it'll be hard for Syracuse to win.  When Pitt is playing at the Petersen Events Center they are 107-10, but Syracuse did give Pitt its first ever loss at the Pete in 2004 49-46 in OT, so they can win in there.  Last game Pitt showed a wekness and that was their lack of depth in the frontcourt. If Biggs or Blair get a quick 2 fouls in the first half they they did last game, Cuse has a great advantage there with Onuaku and Jackson down low.  Cuse contined it's defensive "dominance" by holding ND's Luke Harangody to 9-28 shooting from the field and they are still top 5 in the country in defensive FG%, if Cuse can force Pitt to take bad shots, they will be in good shape, because UofL got Sam Young flustered, he shot just 30% from the field.  Expect the same type of defensive game employed against PItt that was used against ND.  Man to Man all night, Pitt is not only a good 3 point shooting team (35.7%) but they have good slashers like Sam Young, Gilbert Brown and LeVance Fields, so instead of letting Pitt carve up the zone with drive in and pass down like Florida, man will be employed.  In the man Cuse matches up pretty evenly with Pitt, the two teams are almost identical in terms of their size.  The key matchup to watch will be Arinze Onuaku v. DeJaun Blair. Cuse proved good things happen when you feed Arinze, instead of giving him just 6 shots (ala the Georgetown game).  When the country's leader in FG% is on your team he should be shooting at least 10-12 times a game.  When Onuaku has taken at least 10 shots he is averaging 16.4 ppg and 9.6 boards, Cuse is 5-0 in those games, obviously good things happen when he gets the ball early and often, feed him, and Cuse is almost unbeatable.

My Prediction:  Pitt wont be the #1 team in the country come tip time tomorrow, but they are still VERY dangerous.  Both teams have Final 4 capabilities, but Pitt at home is too much for Syracuse, especially after a disheartening loss for them like Saturday's.  Pitt will come out hungry and ready to redeem themselves, Pitt wins it 77-71.

Final Score: 78-60 Pittsburgh
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