Sunday, January 25, 2009


January 25, 2009

It is the Backyard basketBrawl as Pittsburgh and West Virginia square off at 4 PM in Morgantown in a Big East conference match-up. The two bitter rivals will lock horns on the hardwood twice this season, Sunday is the first of those meetings.

West Virginia earned an impressive 75-58 road victory on Thursday night against Georgetown. Just when you were expecting the Mountaineers to possibly fade away in the Big East race, they showed us all they can not be counted out.

Pittsburgh is off to a 5-1 conference start and rebounded from their first loss of the season last Saturday at Louisville by pummeling Syracuse, 78-60, Monday night.

Brawl in Morgantown (WVmetroNews.com)
Pitt’s Blair Continues to Make Steady Progress (Tribune-Review)
No Rest for WVU (Register-Herald)
Panthers on Top of their Game (Register-Herald)
Everhart Thinks Pitt, WVU Will Duke it Out (Charleston Gazette)
WVU Expects to See Pitt at its Best (Martinsburg Journal)
Pitt’s Big Man a Fan of WVU Coach (Tribune-Review)
Tall Order for WVU (Charleston Gazette)
Pitt, West Virginia Clash in Morgantown (Tribune-Review)
WVU’s Butler Starting to heat Up (Post-Gazette)

Two teams that will get after it very hard on the defensive end of the floor will meet in Morgantown on Sunday. With this game being such a big rivalry, expect the atmosphere to be extra charged, especially with the lofty ranking attached to the Panthers.

Pitt has the experience and, although they are not much bigger than the Mountaineers, they certainly play bigger. That will likely hold true as long as star sophomore center DeJuan Blair stays out of foul trouble.

Limited to just 20 minutes at Louisville last Saturday, Blair still managed 9 points and 10 rebounds. When he was on the floor, Pitt seemed in control, but when he left the game with his fourth foul, Pitt’s undefeated season unraveled and they tasted defeat.

West Virginia will likely try to force Pitt to use their hedge defensive philosophy to see if they can pick up fouls on Blair away from the basket, if they are successful, it changes the whole dynamic of the game for Pitt.

On the WVU side, the play of freshman point guard Darryl Bryant will be tested. In a game with emotions likely charged, Bryant will need to be a calming influence beyond his years in the Mountaineer backcourt. You know Pitt’s Levance Fields will likely have a near flawless floor game, Bryant will need to keep his excitement under wraps and orchestrate the attack.

The rest of the line-ups are filled with athletes. The small forward match-up also could decide the game with either Sam Young or Da’Sean Butler tipping the game in their team’s favor.

West Virginia has had trouble scoring and some three’s from Alex Ruoff will be a huge lift to their team. Something tells me he will shake off some of his recent struggles in a big spot here for the senior.

WVU is a slight 1 ½-point favorite. This should be quite a game…but, the home team should be primed for the upset…in a thriller!

NBE Blogger Prediction:

West Virginia 67
Pittsburgh 66



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