Pittsburgh (10-0) vs. Cincinnati (7-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 17, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (18,200) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Pitt 7-0, Cincinnati 7-0. Away Record: Pitt 0-0, Cincinnati 0-1. Neutral Record: Pitt 3-0, Cincinnati 0-1. Conference Record: Pitt 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 9-9.
GAME NOTES: Former Big East rivals meet up at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, as the unbeaten Pittsburgh Panthers square off against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Jimmy V Classic.
For the eighth time in the last 11 seasons, and the for the first since 2010, Pitt has won each of its first 10 games of the season. The Panthers recently concluded a three-game homestand with victories over Penn State (78-69), Loyola Marymount (85-68) and Youngstown State (91-73). They are also 3-0 on neutral courts on the campaign.
Cincinnati opened the season red-hot with seven straight victories, all of which came at home, but it has not fared ell away from its home arena. After dropping a 63-54 decision at New Mexico on Dec. 7, the Bearcats lost on a neutral floor to cross-town rival Xavier on Saturday, 64-47.
After 18 all-time meetings, each team has beaten the other nine times. In two matchups last season, each squad won on the road, with Pitt winning most recently in Cincinnati, 62-52 on Feb. 9, 2012.
The Panthers made easy work of Youngstown State on Saturday afternoon by shooting a lofty 51.5 percent from the field and by dominating the rebounding advantage, 47-21. Lamar Patterson paced the balanced effort with 18 points on 7-of-11 from the field, while Talib Zanna tallied 10 points and 15 rebounds. Cameron Wright scored 13 points, Derrick Randall netted 11 points off the bench and Michael Young added 10 points.
It's no surprise how Pitt has gotten off to an undefeated start this season when analyzing its statistical performance. Not only does it boast a dominating +21.0 scoring margin on just shy of 50 percent field goal shooting, but it lives comfortably in the green in both the rebounding (+12.2) and turnover (+2.9) margins. Patterson has been a well-rounded star with 16.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game, while sporting great percentages from the field (.505), 3-point range (.432) and the free-throw line (.778). Zanna mans the paint with 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, while Wright (11.9 ppg) and Durand Johnson (9.6 ppg) have also been stellar.
The Bearcats experienced by far their worst offensive performance of the season in their latest loss to Xavier, as they shot only 33.3 percent from the field and didn't help themselves much from the free-throw line either (14- of-26). Sean Kilpatrick was able to overcome the struggles of many of his teammates by netting 17 points, while Shaquille Thomas was also impressive with 13 points.
It was certainly an atypical performance for Cincinnati, which scores 73.4 points per game while allowing a lowly 58.0 points per game. It also boasts one of the nation's best turnover margins, creating 7.7 more takeaways per game than it commits. Kilpatrick is the unquestioned go-to scoring option with 19.3 points per game, doing a large chunk of his damage from 3-point range (25-of-57). No one else scores in double figures on a nightly basis, but Justin Jackson (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Titus Rubles (9.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) are both consistently solid.
While Cincinnati will likely give the Panthers a run for their money, it has shown early this season to be completely different away from home. Pitt's dominating campaign has not slowed down outside of its home arena, and expect it to outlast the Bearcats in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 74, Cincinnati 67
12/17 10:33:42 ET