Who: Seton Hall Pirates (12-8, 3-6 Big East, 2-4 Road) @ Pittsburgh Panthers (16-6, 6-4 Big East, 11-1 Home)
When: Saturday, Feb. 5, 6:00 PM.
The Pierogi (The meat of it all):
I have chosen to use a picture of former Pittsburgh Panther great Brandin Knight. Why? Because not one of the current Panther's is deserving of having their picture on this preview.
Currently, Pitt sits at fifth in the Big East conference. As a result of how strong and impressive the Big East conference has been this season, come March, the conference should have eight teams dancing. So, if the season ended today, Pitt would be in.
At the same time, for Pitt, if you couple how they are currently playing with the difficulty of their remaining games, staying at the fifth spot is not going to be easy.
This is why if Pitt wants to make the tournament, they must get back on track with a win against the Pirates.
Pitt has lost four of their last five, the most recent being a 19-point defeat at the hands of West Virginia. Pitt's play against WVU verged on embarrassing. All you have to do is look at the stats.
Brad Wanamaker, considered the heart and soul of the team, averaging 12.3 point per game, was 0-4 with no points! Gilbert Brown, their spark-plug off the bench, who was coming off a 25 point effort against South Florida, was also 0-4 with no points!
As a team, Pitt shot 16-53 (30.2 percent). It was painful to type those numbers...it really was.
Pitt looked flat, uninterested, and scared. This is not the Pitt basketball that we have grown accustomed to under Dixon. His teams have been prepared, focused, and ready for war.
Don't get me started on Ashton Gibbs. In his first five Big East games, he shot nearly 70 percent from the three-point line. In the past five games, he has shot 20 percent (6-29).
Do you watch Lost? This transformation is like John Locke to Flocke (fake Locke). We want the first Ashton Gibbs back. Go away FGibbs.
I don't want to say suggest it, but I will. Is the Ashton Gibbs we have seen over the past five games, the real Ashton Gibbs? Its to early to tell, but I see no reason for this five game slump. He appears healthy. He is getting open looks. What's wrong? Please tell me...
As mentioned earlier, Pitt sits at fifth in the Big East. They are one game up on four other teams, and they have the tie-breaker against Louisville, as they beat them earlier this season.
However, they don't have the tie-breaker against South Florida, who is also 5-5 in the BE, and it's yet to be seen whether they will have it over Marquette and Notre Dame who are also 5-5.
After today, Pitt has five tough games. They still have to go on the road to play Notre Dame, Marquette, and St. Johns. They also have the No. 2 team in the country in Villanova at home, and then there is the rematch against WVU.
As far as today's game, there is no need to break down matchups. No need to discuss how Pitt will slow down Jeremy Hazell, and it doesn't matter what Herb Pope, the native Pittsburgher, is bringing to the table.
Today is about PRIDE. Its time for Pitt to take some freaking pride in that uniform they put in. The same uniform that Pitt legends like Brandin Knight and DeJuan Blair put on before they went out and gave it their all.
Pitt needs to play with more desperation, and intensity than not only their opponent, but more than they have shown in their most recent losses.
I am going to all but guarantee a Pitt victory. Pitt is going play with more heart and emotion than we have seen from them all season. I don't know if it will be a blowout, or a back and forth close game, but I strongly believe that when push comes to shove, Pitt will be victorious. Pitt 70 Seton Hall 68.