Written by Todd Parmele, HoopWriters
Heart vs. Height
DeJuan Blair (Heart) matched up well against Thabeet (Height) the last time out. Blair can use his body to create space underneath the basket. Blair also has a knack of keeping, Thabeet away from the rim. Thabeet is most effective on the offensive end when he has the ball within five feet of the basket. Blair should continue to negate Thabeet’s ability to get easy baskets (put backs and dunks).
Blair will finish the game with 18 and 12 points, while Thabeet will have 16 and 11. It is more likely that Thabeet will finish the game with eight points and eight rebounds. Hopefully, the refs, let the two big fellas battle it out.
Step it Up
Craig Austrie of UConn has not done much since being inserted in the starting rotation. Austrie is a solid player, but his era is nearing an end. Austrie may start for UConn, but he is one of those players that performs better in practice than in games.
The Big Stage
Levance Fields is one of those players that performs well on the big stage. Today's game will air on CBS, and will have an NCAA Tournament feel with Bill Raftery doing the play-by-play. Therefore, expect Fields to have a good game.
It also does not hurt that he takes care of the ball. Fields has a nearly four to one assist to turnover ration (7.5 to 1.9). Last year he led Pitt to the Big East Tournament title and this year Pitt should be the favorite. I like Pitt’s depth, which will become more apparent and important in a tournament setting.
Fields is questionable with a bruised lower back an injury he suffered in the team's win over Marquette. Expect Fields to play, as the injury should only have a marginal effect if any on his game.
Robinson or Robinson?
Which Stanley Robinson will show up for UConn? The Stanley Robinson that had a three game stretch of averaging over 12 points and eight rebounds, or the one that had three points and four turnovers versus Notre Dame?
Last time against Pitt, Robinson played well, finishing the game with 10 rebounds. Robinson has made just one three pointer on the year and is shooting just 6 percent from beyond the arc. Last year Robinson finished the year, a more than respectable 28 for 67 three-point-range (roughly 42 percent).
Chairman of the Boards
DeJuan Blair could be the next Charles Barkley, an undersized power forward, who has uncanny ability to rebound the ball. Blair is the best offensive rebounder on the college level in recent memory, as he averages over five offensive rebounds per game.
If Pitt wins this one, expect Blair to be named Big East Player of the Year. If he is not named Player of the Year, than their is a definite conspiracy in the making.
According to the sports books, Pitt is a 3 to a 3.5 point favorite. The over/under is 140. Pitt piles on the points at home, the problem is UConn is amongst the leaders field goal defense.
Last time out, Pitt might have tallied 76 points, but that also occurred because Thabeet was in foul trouble. Although UConn has a better chance to win if they can keep the final score in the 60-point range, I believe Pitt will still put up around 70 points and that is why I would take the over.
Take UConn and the over in this one. The safer bet will be the over.
The final score will be 74-71, UConn.