Villanova (18-11) at (23) Pittsburgh (22-7)
Sunday, March 3, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. Television: PHIL17, ROOT, MASN. Home Record: Villanova 11-4,
Pitt 15-3. Away Record: Villanova 6-6, Pitt 5-3. Neutral Record: Villanova
1-1, Pitt 2-1. Conference Record: Villanova 9-7, Pitt 10-6. Series Record:
Series is tied, 32-32.
GAME NOTES: For the last time as Big East foes in regular season action the
Villanova Wildcats and Pittsburgh Panthers will collide at the Petersen Events
Center on Sunday.
The Wildcats had won three straight games before being stunned, 66-65, by
Seton Hall last time out. The setback dropped the Wildcats to 18-11 overall
and to a 9-7 mark in league action which has them right in the thick of things
in the crowded Big East standings. Villanova will face another ranked opponent
in its season finale on Thursday when it hosts No. 7 Georgetown.
Pittsburgh has quietly posted a strong campaign this season. The Panthers have
earned back-to-back wins entering this contest, their final at home this year.
Pittsburgh is 22-7 overall and with a 64-44 win over South Florida on
Wednesday, Pitt is now 10-6 in league action. The Panthers have now won 10
conference games in the last 12 seasons making it the only Big East squad to
These rivals from the Keystone State have an even split of the 64 previous
meetings. Pittsburgh used a strong defensive effort to earn a 58-43 win when
they met up earlier this season. The Panthers have now won five straight in
Villanova had a 65-61 lead with 28 seconds left and looked to have the game
wrapped up against Seton Hall. However the Wildcats allowed the Pirates to
score the final five points to give up the decision. Ryan Arcidiacono had a
chance to win at the end but missed a last-second jumper.
The Wildcats are one of the least efficient teams in the Big East on the
offensive end of the floor. They are among the three worst teams in the
conference in assists (12.4 pg) and field-goal percentage (.417). On the
defensive end they have been solid, holding teams to fewer than 65 points per
game and less than 40 percent shooting. JayVaughn Pinkston (12.7 ppg) is the
leading scoring option for the Wildcats though he has spent a bulk of the
season as a reserve. Pinkston has become a mainstay in the starting lineup
down the stretch though. In his freshman season Arcidiacono (11.8 ppg) has
shown no fear in taking shots, but is hitting just 35.4 percent from the
floor. Darrun Hilliard (11.6 ppg) is the third and final member of the team
averaging in double figures.
Yet again it was Pittsburgh's effort on the defensive end that carried it in
the win over South Florida. The Panthers limited the Bulls to just 31.9
percent shooting in the matchup, while surrendering just six field goals in
the final 20 minutes.
Defense has been the strong suit for the Panthers all season. They have
limited teams to a paltry 54.6 and 9.9 assists per game. Each of those marks
is among the top 20 nationally. The Panthers have also kept teams to just 38.9
percent shooting. On offense the Panthers don't pile up the points but they
have been extremely careful with their passes and shot selection. The Panthers
lead the Big East in field-goal percentage (.473), while handing out the 10th
most assists in the country (16.4 apg). Tray Woodall (11.5 ppg, 5.1 apg) not
only leads the team in scoring but has been the top distributor as well. Lamar
Patterson (10.0 ppg) is the only other double-figure scorer on the roster.
Talib Zanna (9.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is capable of lighting it up as he makes good
on better than 50 percent from the field.
With how well they play on defense the Panthers will feast on the at times,
undisciplined Wildcats. As long as Pittsburgh controls the ball and continues
to take good shots it shouldn't have an issue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 67, Villanova 56
03/03 10:35:53 ET
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