Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Pittsburgh @ Rutgers

January 18, 2006

Last night the NBE Blogger won outright with the three gimme games of Villanova, West Virginia and Georgetown, even though nothing was given to anyone in the conference last night. Again, Marquette proved the NBE Blogger wrong and Louisville was overwhelmed by the athletic and passionate Red Storm, giving the NBE Blogger a 3-2 night and 24-7 on the season. Against the spread, the NBE blogger won with WVU winning by 16, Seton Hall losing by just 9 and Marquette winning, the NBE Blogger was on the correct side with the spread on that game for a 3-2 night, leaving the YTD record against the spread at 18-13.

Here are the pre-game articles and notes from around the net on tonight's game:

Rutgers Catalyst (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Rutgers Seeks 'Show Me' Win (NorthJersey.com)
Rutgers Needs a Webb Gem on Defense (Courier News)
Pitt Notebook (Tribune-Review)
Gray in Shape to Give RU a Fit (Newark Star-Ledger)
Scouting Pitt/Rutgers (Courier-News).
Pitt Frosh Becoming Hardened Veterans (Pittsburgh Trib-Review)

To read our preview and see our game prediction, click read more below and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section!


Ninth ranked and 3-pt favorite Pittsburgh travels up to New Jersey for their shot at Rutgers in the RAC. The Scarlet Knights are coming off an overtime road win at DePaul on Sunday and are feeling good about themselves with a 2-1 conference record, where the only blemish was an overtime loss to Villanova last week.

Pitt is one of just three undefeated teams left in the country and are in the middle of a 3-game road trip. On Sunday, they won at Louisville and play at St. John's this Saturday before returning to Pittsburgh to meet Syracuse for Big Monday.

The RAC has certainly claimed a long list of victims over the last few years, but one that keeps escaping has been the Pitt Panthers, who have won the last three games between the two teams at the RAC, all very tight and physical games. Pittsburgh will bring the same mentality on defense and the boards into this game, which makes them a tough team on the road. Of course, they are led by senior Carl Krauser who is having a tremendous season as the move from point guard to the off-guard has been a complete success for the Panthers. On the Rutgers side it is no secret that the man is Quincy Douby. Looking at the numbers, both players shoot between 45-46% from the floor and Douby hits 38% from 3-pt range and Krauser is slightly better at 41%. Both average about 4.5 rebounds a game and do tend to turn it over when they are forced to make something out of nothing at times. Douby is the better foul shooter and averages 23 PPG, compared to Krauser's 17 PPG, but Douby has attempted 95 more shots from the field on the season, so it is very obvious how much Rutgers depends on their junior scorer. He accounts for 32% of their scoring and 31% of their shot attempts.

Last year Pittsburgh won at the RAC in overtime in a game where Krauser scored just 7 points and committed 9 turnovers. Ronald Ramon scored a career best 21 points and Antonio Graves hit the big shots in OT to pull out the win. This year Ramon and Krauser make up the starting backcourt and John DeGroat will start at the wing with Graves and Keith Benjamin in the mix as well. Freshmen Levance Fields rotates in at the guard position as well and has given Pitt a spark of offense in Big East play, especially with his 13 points at Louisville on Sunday. Much of the credit for Krauser's struggles last year can be given to Marquis Webb who has really taken the role of defensive stopper as well as anyone in this league. He will look to do it to Krauser once again.

Last year against Pitt, Douby scored 17, but nobody else (who is returning) found much success against Pitt. Freshmen Anthony Farmer will run the point for Rutgers and senior Marquis Webb will also flank Douby in the backcourt. Douby will probably see a good portion of the Pitt roster on him defensively at one time or another. Pitt is still an excellent defensive team this year. Unlike in the past, where they had lock down perimeter defenders like Jaron Brown, Julius Page, Brandin Knight, etc., this year's Panthers rely on team defense for similar results. Douby most certainly will get his points, but the entire Panther team is going to make him work for them, so, getting other sources of offense is a big key for Rutgers. Freshmen Jaron Griffin is in the guard rotation as well.

The key in the backcourt is for Pitt to stay even with Rutgers and Rutgers needs to put up big numbers to overcome Pitt's big edge in the paint. The Panthers are big and strong and are led by 7-foot Aaron Gray, the Big East's leading rebounder. Gray gets help from Levon Kendall and exciting freshmen Sam Young with fellow freshmen Tyrell Biggs adding depth. For Rutgers, freshmen JR Inman is the most productive frontcourt player and they will rotate in Byron Joynes, Ollie Bailey, Adrian Hill and Jimmie Inglis to provide size and fouls. Defense and rebounding is a must for Rutgers at these positions, the Panthers just grind away at you inside and keep working to establish themselves defensively and on the boards first and in the end, seem to make the plays to win.

Pittsburgh is a very consistent team, there does not seem to be too many highs and lows and they play the same on the road as they do at home. Their game is perfect to win on the road as they buckle down defensively and on the boards and seem to ride out any surge the home team rides from the crowd's energy. Rutgers is definitely a different team at the RAC than they are on the road. They take pride in being the giant killers on their home floor and tonight they have a giant on their turf. This is one giant that does not mind getting down and dirty with the home team and that is to Pittsburgh's advantage. This game will be another tough, physical game where both teams have to work for everything they get, a game Pittsburgh seems to love.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 66 Rutgers 63 (Pitt to win, no play on the 3-pt spread)

Let's see your predicton in the comments section!


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