Pitt-Villanova: 2009 Men's NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Picks ATS, March 28

Ryan BrennanSenior Analyst IMarch 27, 2009

BOSTON - MARCH 26:  Levance Fields #2 of the Pittsburgh Panthers steals the ball and brings it down court for the game-winning shot over the Xavier Musketeers during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regionals at TD Banknorth Garden on March 26, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers (31-4, 15-3 Big East) vs. No. 3 Villanova Wildcats (29-7, 13-5 Big East)

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight—East Region
Saturday, March 28—7:05 PM ET on CBS


Preview

Big East in-state rivals Pittsburgh and Villanova face off in the Elite Eight on Saturday. This will be a rematch of their late January game, where the Wildcats claimed their first victory over a ranked opponent, and the Panthers fell for just the second time.

The key to the Wildcat's victory was getting DeJuan Blair in foul trouble—without the co-Big East Player of the Year in the frontcourt, Pittsburgh is a different team. Blair only played 20 minutes in the first meeting, and when he picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes left to play, the score was tied at 48.

But the Panthers are far from a one-trick pony—Sam Young leads the team in points and was named to the All-Big East First Team for the second year in a row, and senior point guard Levance Fields (All-Big East Third Team) has the ability to rally his team late in a game (see: Feb. 16 vs. UConn, Sweet 16 vs. Xavier, et al.).

Villanova's squad also features players who received individual awards this season—senior Dante Cunningham received the Big East Most Improved Player award and was named to the All-Big East Second Team, junior guard Scottie Reynolds was given honorable mention, and sophomore guard Corey Fisher received the Big East Sixth Man award. Away from the players, coach Jay Wright received the Big East Coach of the Year Award.

These two teams are no strangers to each other—they have faced off seven times in the past five seasons, with Villanova holding the edge with four wins. Last season the teams split their two meetings—will 'Nova be able to hold off the Panthers, or will Pittsburgh move on to the Final Four for the first time since 1941?

By The Numbers

 RecordConfATSRPISOSPFPA
No. 3 Villanova29-713-517-14133177.067.1
No. 1 Pittsburgh31-415-316-12-12878.064.3
 FG%D. FG%3P%D. 3P%FT%RPGSPGAPGTPGBPG
No. 3 Villanova45.740.636.533.974.641.28.115.013.43.3
No. 1 Pittsburgh48.340.935.633.467.542.86.917.912.23.9

Stats Leaders

 No. 3 VillanovaNo. 1 Pittsburgh
PPGD. Cunningham - 16.3S. Young - 18.9
 S. Reynolds - 15.1D. Blair - 15.8
 C. Fisher - 10.9L. Fields - 10.6
RPGD. Cunningham - 7.3D. Blair - 12.3
APGS. Reynolds - 3.5L. Fields - 7.6
SPGS. Reynolds - 1.6D. Blair - 1.5
BPGD. Cunningham - 1.3D. Blair - 1.0

Prediction

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