PITTSBURGH NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
March 25, 2009
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is Backing the Panthers in the Tourney (Tribune-review). The Super Bowl winning head coach, who is seen often attending games at the Peterson Events Center, called Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to wish him well this week.
The Panthers have to buck prior history to get past the Sweet 16 and #4 seed Xavier. Despite being a 7-point favorite, the Panthers have never beaten anyone better than a 6-seed since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979. Ouch!
In order to pass that hurdle, Pittsburgh will have to get past a familiar opponent as the Panthers See Themselves in Xavier Upfront (Post-Gazette) as both teams are mature with football-sized big men ready to battle in the paint.
Xavier might have raised some eyebrows with some curious A-10 losses in the latter part of the season. However, Xavier raised its stock outside its conference, having beaten Memphis, Missouri, Auburn, Cincinnati, Virginia and Louisiana State in the regular season, something certain to be brought to the attention of their next opponent.
After starting the postseason against West Virginia in the 2009 Big East Tournament and ETSU in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament with a couple uncharacteristic performances, Pitt Point Guard is Back to His Old Ways (Tribune-Review) as Levance Fields made the key plays against Oklahoma State.
'Survive and Levance'
While this current Pitt team certainly has an uptick of talent offensively, Defense Remains Pitt Hallmark (Beaver County Times) and the Panthers dusted off that trait in the second half of their win over Oklahoma State. After allowing 49-first half points, Pitt held the Cowboys to 27 in the second half, with nine of those coming in one 1:33 run by the Pokes.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and Duquesne coach Ron Everhart are both very familiar with Pitt and Xavier, having played each this season. According to Everhart, whose team beat Xavier last month, DeJuan Blair and Sean Miller are Keys to Xavier-Pitt Matchup (iht.com). Cronin Expects a Great Game (Cincinnati Enquirer) and feels Xavier can matchup physically with Pitt better than most.
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