BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: ST. JOHN'S AT PITT
January 11, 2009
The newly anointed #1 team in the country will play their first game EVER as the top dog in the country when the undefeated Pitt Panthers host the Redstorm of St. John’s on Sunday at the Peterson Events Center.
Pitt has been off a week and basking in the glow of being the country’s top rated team, according to the AP and the coaches poll. In their last outing they hammered Georgetown, 70-54, at the Verizon Center.
St. John’s has also been itching to get back on the floor as the Redstorm stunned Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden in their last outing. SJU is 1-1 in Big East play and rebounded from a 21-point conference opening loss to Providence with the win over the Irish.
Here are some pregame stories and previews from the internet:
Panthers Repeat ‘Bye Week’ Routine (Post-Gazette)
Homecoming for former Schenley Star DJ Kennedy (Tribune-review)
Fields Unfazed by Ranking (FoxSports.com)
St. John’s Ready for Date With #1 Pittsburgh (NY Times)
Pitt Prepares for Life at the Top (Tribune Review)
The early college basketball betting lines have Pitt as a 19 ½-point favorite on Sunday. The Panther ripped SJU last season at Madison Square Garden despite a huge offensive outburst from Anthony Mason Jr. Mason is out for the season with a knee injury and point guard Malik Boothe is also out with injury. The Redstorm do not match up well with the Panthers and DeJuan Blair and Sam Young will be tough to handle inside for SJU.
Defensively, Pittsburgh is still very strong and Jermaine Dixon has quickly established a reputation of being another lock down defender for the Panthers. In addition, Pitt can bring Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown off the bench as well, both with potential to be elite defenders in the Pitt mold. The key to some of Pitt’s recent success is the upgraded offensive production from the pair as they both average 10 PPG in the two Big East contests to date played by the Panthers.
SJU got a career game from DJ Kennedy, who had 20 pts and 10 rebounds in the win over Notre Dame last week. Kennedy was a high school teammate of DeJuan Blair, so it is a homecoming for the 6’7 G/F. Kennedy could be pressing a little trying to show the hometown crowd what he has while going up against the No. 1 team in the country that he is so familiar with.
If there ever was a game to get used to being No. 1 in the Big East, this is likely the one for Pitt. They should have a very lively crowd ready to welcome the #1 Panthers as they have not played at the Peterson Events Center in 25 days (3-0 on the road since their 12/17/08 win over Siena). This is a game they should win comfortably, although the oddsmakers seem to have put a rather large number on this one for two teams more than willing to play a slower pace.
NBE Blogger Prediction:
St. John’s 58
Labels: 2008-2009 Game Previews