Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Pittsburgh @ Providence

February 15, 2006

Pittsburgh takes to the road again this week after posting a couple home wins last week against West Virginia and Cincinnati. Their first stop this week is in Providence, RI were the Panthers will take on the Friars. Pitt is still very much in the mix for a bye in the conference tournament, sitting at 8-3 in the conference and tied with Georgetown, one game behind Connecticut and West Virginia.

Providence has won four of their last six games putting them on the correct side of the bubble for the Big East tournament. They finish the conference schedule by hosting Pittsburgh, South Florida and Notre Dame and have a return trip to Pittsburgh along with road contests with Cincinnati and Marquette. Finding enough wins to clinch the conference tournament bid is their biggest goal right now.

Here are the pregame stories and previews we have found on the internet this morning:

Friars Haven't Been the Same Since Mauling by Panthers (Providence Journal)
PC vs Pittsburgh Preview (Providence Journal)
Pitt Revisits Site of Crucial Blowout (Tribune Review)
Pitt/Providence Mark 40th Meeting (Tribune-Review)
New Shade of Gray is Key to Pitt Picture (Post-Gazette)
Friars Look to Avoid Pitt Fall (Woonsocket Call)
McGrath's More than a Shooter (Pawtucket Times)

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!


The Friars have done what they needed to do to get into contention for the Big East tournament and even a bid to the NIT. However, tonight, they take a large step-up in competition when the Pittsburgh Panthers come to down.

Providence owns four conference wins, two coming against DePaul and the others over St John's and Rutgers. They have definitely played better of late, but on the season, the only teams with winning records they have beaten are Northeastern, Yale, San Diego St (without their best player) and Rutgers. Now, they will look for their statement win against 9th ranked Pittsburgh.

The last two meetings between Pitt and PC have not gone the way of the Friars, at all. Pittsburgh beat Providence 88-61 in 2004, at Providence, and 86-66 last year in Pittsburgh. This is the first of two meetings between the clubs down the stretch.

Providence is not very deep, just eight scholarship players, and they do not rebound very well. They prefer to play an uptempo game, not the defensive, grind-it-out style of the Panthers, so, establishing one's tempo is a key part of this game.

For the most part, the Friars style plays right into the hands of the Panthers and Pitt has exposed that the last couple years. Pitt also has a few more athletes in their rotation this year compared to the past, so Pitt will also look to take advantage of fast-break opportunities and will surprise you with how well their front court players like Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall run the floor and wings like Sam Young and Keith Benjamin will also look to finish on the break.

Providence will definitely lay the effort on the line with freshmen Sharaud Curry, Geoff McDermott and Weyinmi Efejuku in the starting line-up and bruising Jonathan Kale off the bench. Senior Donnie McGrath has been around for a while and will look to find the range from 3-pt range, he will need to have a hot noght to overcome the Pitt advantages inside.

I do look for the Friars, who should be rested after a week off, to lay it on the line tonight and play with energy and passion. However, a deeper, bigger and more experienced Pitt team will look to pull away as the game goes on by whethering every run by playing defense and hitting the boards.

The Panthers are 5.5-pt road favorites tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 74 Providence 67


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