Wednesday, December 31, 2008


December 31, 2008

The crazy week of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights continues on New Year's Eve as RU welcomes third ranked Pittsburgh to the RAC. Rutgers played No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday night and have Connecticut, currently ranked No. 2, on the schedule for Saturday. Rutgers lost the first leg of this three-game stretch 97-75 to UNC.

Pittsburgh has not played since December 21st when they won a tough, physical match-up at Florida State. It was the Panthers first true road game of the season and they got the win despite shooting just 33% from the floor and their floor general Levance Fields going just 1-10. Pitt showed they still had tough defense and strong rebounding, with DeJuan Blair second in the nation in rebounding average, but also Sam Young is a difference maker and his two late baskets keyed Pitt's win.

Here are some of the pre-game previews and stories found on the internet about the game:

Pitt Set to Open Big East Play Today (Tribune-Review)
Rosario, Woodall Enjoy Reunion (Tribune-Review)
Boys Hit the Big Time as Rosario, Woodall Reunite (SNY.tv)
Pitt Opens Big East Play at Rutgers (York Daily Record)

it is still hard for me to believe that Rutgers has lost to St. Bonaventure, Lehigh and Binghmpton at the RAC already this season. They have also struggled mightily against 5-9 Marist (winning by two) and 2-13 Delaware State (winning by 5) on their homecourt which is regarded as one of the tougher venues in the league.

With a roster that has added a pair of freshman all-americans in Mike Rosario and Greg Echenique to a line-up that had veteran upperclassmen in Anthony Farmer, JR Inman and Hamady N'Diaye as well as sophomores Corey Chandler and Mike Coburn who had some success individually as freshmen, this was supposed to be a stronger RU club, but something has yet to jive.

The Panthers come into the game with a 12-0 record, a no. 3 national ranking and a RPI ranking of #1. Pitt has a veteran leader at point guard n Levance Fields as well as a senior star in Sam Young. Also, star-in-the-making DeJuan Blair is a menacing rebounding in the paint.

Not forgotten to the Panthers is a stunning 77-64 home loss to the Scarlet Knights last season, an outcome that is likely to be reminded often to his players by Jamie Dixon. Pitt was without an injured Levance Fields in that contest.

Current college basketball odds show the Panthers as a 14 1/2-point road favorite. Rutgers is likely to play with some renewed energy and maybe even a little extra confidence from their game against UNC last Sunday. While the Pitt defense will likely be tougher and the conference atmosphere will mean a more intense game, RU should keep Pitt from running away with the win. The Panthers also must avoid looking ahead to their date with Georgetown this weekend.


Pittsburgh 67
Rutgers 55



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