BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Pittsburgh
February 25, 2006
It has only been 10 days since Pittsburgh and Providence met in the Dunkin Donuts center in Providence, RI, the scene of Pitt's 85-77 win over the Friars. The rematch in their home and home series takes place Saturday night in the Peterson Events Center on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
Right now, Providence is in the Big East Tournament, however, finishing with perhaps the toughest three games of all the challengers, along with Louisville, there is no guarantee they will stay among the top 12 teams. Winning this one might be too much to ask of the young Friars on the road.
Pittsburgh will be celebrating their 100th season of Men's Basketball on this night and will expect a very enthused crowd for the festivities. Pittsburgh, who loses out in nearly every tie-breaker scenario in the event of a tie for the final first round byes, knows they need to win out for one of the four Big East Tournament byes and is still playing for a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.
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In their first meeting, Pittsburgh road Aaron Gray in the 2nd half to come from an early defecit and defeat Providence. Donnie McGrath had a career high 28 pts in the contest, but nobody else on the Friars lended any help to the senior and Pittsburgh got four players in double figures and points from 10 players.
The Friars will need Randall Hanke to play more like he did against Solomon Jones this past week and less like he did the first time against Pittsburgh. However, the size and girth of Aaron Gray is a very tough match-up for both Hanke and Herbert Hill. In the first meeting they combined to go 5-16 from the floor for 14 pts and 7 rebounds in 42 minutes while Gray went 9-9 from the floor and hit for 22 pts and 9 rebounds in 30 minutes. Pitt made some halftime adjustments in attacking the PC zone to get Gray the ball and he led the Panthers to the victory, we will see if PC alters any of their strategy this time around.
Providence only has eight scholarship players and Pitt's bench that goes 10 deep by the 8 minute mark of every game was huge in the first meeting, scoring 29 pts. They will use that depth again and their overall talent to grind away another win, pulling away over the course of 40 minutes and add their own celebration to the evening's festivities.
NBE Blogger Prediction:
Pittsburgh 78 Providence 65