Thursday, March 09, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Pittsburgh vs West Virginia

March 9, 2006

The two bitter rivals will meet for a third time this season. After splitting their first two games, with both teams winning on their home courts, the Panthers and Mountaineers will settle things under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

Here are the pregame stories and previews from the internet:

Seniors Lead WVU into Quarterfinals (Beaver County Times)
WVU Enters Tournament After Loss - Again (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
WVU Relies Heavily on Three-Pointers
WVU Sits Back, Gets Pittsburgh Tonight (Charleston Gazette)
WVU Men Prep for Another Big East Run (Register-Herald)
Its More Than a New York Minute (Daily Mail)
Pitt Players Back in the City (Beaver County 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!


West Virginia got to kick back and relax last night and watch some Big East basketball as they were one of four teams with a bye in the Big East Conference Toournament. With their lack of depth, a night off was probably a welcomed relief. For the first 25 minutes or so of last night's Louisville/Pittsburgh 1st round match-up, it looked as though the Panthers had the night off, running out to leads of 16-0, 35-7 and 43-16 with about 16 minutes left. Then, in fact, it did seem like they took the rest of th egame off as Louisville whittled down the lead to 3 at 59-56, but Pittsburgh prevailed for the victory, having to use a little more effort than you would have thought when they got out to their big lead.

Pittsburgh is a team that can play 10 or 11 guys, so they are deep, last night they used 8 players at least 18 minutes, so fatigue probably will not be too much of a factor tonight. The Mountaineers will likely be anxious to get this one under way. They are coming off a season-ending loss and had to wait all day yesterday and again, all day today, until the approximate 9:30 tip-off. Pittsburgh already has a game under their belts in the Garden and that can be a key, especially for two teams that are pretty evenly matched.

Pitt will look to get Aaron Gray the ball and have him work against Kevin Pittsnogle in the post. Gray struggled a little bit last night against some of the length and athleticism of UL's Terrance Farley, and will have to contend tonight with the West Virginia double-team. How he handles his passing and patience out of the double-team will go a long way in determining how effective the Pittsburgh offense is run. West Virginia will look to use Pittsnogle on the perimeter and pull Gray away from the basket to the 3-pt line, opening up the middle and helping ease Pitt's rebounding advantage.

West Virginia runs a lot of cuts and screens, but Pitt is a difficult team to run those sets against. Mike Gansey had a tough pair of games against Pittsburgh getting free for shots, the Panthers will continue to try and bump him on every cut and ride him through each screen. Finding an alternative source of scoring is a key for the Mountaineers, whether it is Joe Herber, Patrick Beilein or Frank Young, somebody will need to step up for WVU. In their home win against Pitt just over a week ago, Joe Herber started off hot and the Mountaineers rode the emotional wave of Senior Night for an early 19-6 lead. Pittsburgh battled back, but could not overcome the early defecit, largely due to Cark Krauser's 3-16 night shooting the ball.

I do not think West Virginia will rush out tonight to an early lead or that Krauser will have such a poor game, however, the double team of Gray and Pitt's problems protecting the ball will continue to keep this game close. Unlike the previous two match-ups, I look for Mike Gansey, who had a red-hot 2nd half against Cincinnati over the weekend, to break out against Pittsburgh and the Mountaineers pull one out down the stretch, led, as usual, by their five seniors, who will be a little more rested tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

West Virginia 70 Pittsburgh 67


At 5:38 PM, Blogger fruntz said...

Pitt by 8. No way Pitt gets pittsnoggled again. Pitsnoggle ends up with a gray face and "black magic" krauser gets his boys playing with poise. Ears will get behind early and Pitt will not succumb to the pressure the way they did last night.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger New Big East Blog said...

Good calll fruntz! It might have happened kind of in the reverse, as Pitt got down early and WVU seemed to become a little unglued and very intimidated inside.

Great win for the Panthers...hopefully nails down a 3-seed...so many teams in that category.


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