Wednesday, February 27, 2008


February 27, 2008

Pittsburgh has lost three straight games and looks to right the ship tonight when the Cincinnati Bearcats come to the Peterson Events Center. The Bearcats beat Pitt early this season in Cincinnati, 62-59, and hold a one-game lead on the Panthers in the standings.

Here are the local media previews and game stories for tonight's contest:

Bearcats Playing for Position (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Slumping Panthers Look to Rebound (Post-Gazette)
Defense, Rebounding Costing Pitt (Beaver County Times)
Prolonged Shooting Slump Perplexes Pitt (Tribune-Review)

Following losses at Marquette, at Notre Dame and to Louisville on Sunday the Panthers look to bounce back and avenge an early loss tonight when they host Cincinnati in Pittsburgh. Earlier this season, the Bearcats used a physical defense, aggressive rebounding and a timely 13-0 run to break a second half tie to hold on for a 62-59 win over Pittsburgh.

Against Louisville, Levance Fields started for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot on December 29th and played 37 turnover-free minutes. Fields also added 7 assists. It is clear that the junior point guard is not yet close to 100%, especially defensively or with his shot, but he is getting healthier and is the player that definitely makes the Panther offense go. In their loss to Louiville, it was not their offense, but their defense that struggled. Facing Cincinnati, who is struggling scoring points, could be a nice tonic for what ails the Panthers.

However, it will not be easy as the Bearcats will keep the pace down and have a dynamic scorer in Deonta Vaughn to lean on. The emergence of forward John Williamson as a reliable second option offensively has also been a big key in taking some pressure off of Vaughn. Defensively, UC will likely show a lot of zone looks trying to force Pitt to beat them from the outside and settle for perimeter jump shots. This is a good gamble against the Panthers who are very streaky from the outside.

Sam Young and DeJuan Blair each scored 20 points against Louisville with Fields delivering the ball to them in position to score. Young continues to score inside and out and he was the one Panther UC could not stop in the first meeting. Blair found himself in foul trouble earlier this year against Cincinnati and Pitt must have him on the floor as much as possible for them to be at their best.

The oddsmakers have made Pitt an 11.5-pt favorite. I do think Pitt wins, but in what I expect to be a low-scoring game, I think Cincinnati stays within that large spread.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Pittsburgh 69 Cincinnati 61



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