BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Pittsburgh
February 10, 2007
The Providence Friars, fresh off their great escape over Cincinnati, travel to Pittsburgh for a Saturday evening Big East contest. The Friars are 5-4 in the Big East and are still looking for a road win to that has some meat to it. Their win the previous weekend at Connecticut was nice, but they are still looking to real in a big fish away from Providence.
Pittsburgh could be in a tight spot, they are coming off a road win at rival West Virginia that followed a 9-day layoff. The Panthers have a tough schedule ahead, as of today, the top four teams in the conference are Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Marquette and West Virginia, according to the standings. Pittsburgh has all three of those contenders still ahead on their schedule as they are the only team that plays all three two times in this unbalanced schedule. Georgetown, Marquette and WVU each only faces Pitt twice among the contenders. Pitt also has Louisville on the short turnaround on Monday night. This will be the first of three consecutive Pitt games on ESPN.
Pittsburgh has the homecourt advantage and the edge with depth. Against UC, Providence relied on their starters for 65 of their 71 points. Against West Virginia, Pittsburgh got more than half of their 60 points from their bench. Pittsburgh will man up and play man to man trying to wear down the Friars, whose starters have been logging a lot of minutes. The Friars will look to press and zone Pittsburgh, which is a pretty good strategy as the Panthers sometimes look a little weak with the ball against pressure, but once they break the press, they are prone to pick teams apart with their passing and effecient offense.
The game also features a measuring stick for Herbert Hill, PC's athletic big man, and Aaron Gray. Hill is having an all-conference type season while Gray was the preseason conference player of the year. Will the big body of Gray take Hill out of his game? Hill is the athletic big man that can give Gray trouble, although Gray was ahrdly phased last year torching PC for 39 pts and 18 rebounds on 16-19 shooting in two meetings. Although, Hill did have some success of his own running the floor and scoring 15 pts in the second meeting, although he grabbed just two rebounds.
Pittsburgh at home is just too tough. Even though this is somewhat a sandwich game and Providence really needs a win like this for their NCAA hopes, expect the Panthers' depth to win out.
NBE Blogger Prediction: Pittsburgh 71 Providence 62