(20) Pittsburgh (23-7) at DePaul (11-19)
Saturday, March 9, 2 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (18,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois.
Television: WTAE, Big East Network, MASN. Home Record: Pitt 16-3, DePaul 7-9.
Away Record: Pitt 5-3, DePaul 4-8. Neutral Record: Pitt 2-1, DePaul 0-2.
Conference Record: Pitt 11-6, DePaul 2-15. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads,
GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers will play their final regular
season game as a member of the Big East Conference when they visit the DePaul
Blue Demons at Allstate Arena on Saturday.
Next season Pittsburgh, along with Syracuse, will make a move to the Atlantic
Coast Conference. The Panthers are sending themselves off in style though with
the team at 23-7 overall and 11-6 in league play, while one of six league
teams in the top-25. Pittsburgh has won three straight games entering this
final bout and depending on outcomes of Saturday's games could be as high as
the fourth seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament. The Panthers need a win
and a loss by Notre Dame to do so.
DePaul does not have such lofty aspirations heading into this finale. The Blue
Demons are currently at the very bottom of the Big East with just two wins in
17 tries against league foes. Thanks to Connecticut's ban from the postseason
this year the Blue Demons will still be in the 14-team field of the Big East
Tournament but they have already locked in as the lowest seed.
Not surprisingly Pittsburgh blasted DePaul in the first meeting this season as
the Panthers earned a 93-55 victory at home. The Panthers have won eight of
the 10 all-time meetings.
Though they needed overtime to do so, the Panthers grabbed their third
straight win by posting a 73-64 win over Villanova on Sunday. James Robinson
nailed a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left that forced overtime and in the extra
session the Panthers scored the first seven points to pull away.
The Panthers have excelled in controlling the tempo this season. They have
been able to move the ball with ease to find open shooters as they rank second
in the conference, and among the top 25 teams nationally, in both assists
(16.6 pg) and field-goal percentage (.472). The Panthers also don't make many
mistakes with the second best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55) in the nation.
On defense the Panthers are air tight holding teams to just 54.9 points per
game on 38.8 percent shooting which are also among the top 25 marks in the
country. Tray Woodall (11.5 ppg, 5.3 apg), Lamar Patterson (10.0 ppg) and
James Robinson (6.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) work well as a group in the backcourt. The
Panthers may be without Steven Adams (7.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg) for a second
straight game as he deals with a sprained ankle. Talib Zanna (9.9 ppg, 6.1
rpg) will have to carry the load inside if that is the case.
DePaul went into the Carrier Dome its last time out and came out on the short
end of a 78-57 romp against Syracuse. Cleveland Melvin (15 points, eight
rebounds) and Brandon Young (12 points, 6 assists) had solid efforts but the
Blue Demons shot just 37.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18
Young (16.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Melvin (16.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) have been carrying
DePaul this season. The pair are the second-highest scoring teammates in the
conference and the only players on the team scoring in double figures. Young
also falls among the top 10 players in assists in the conference while Melvin
is a top 10 rebounder. With those two at the helm the Blue Demons have
actually been scoring just fine this season. The Blue Demons put in 72 points
per game despite shooting at just a 43.4 percent clip from the field. However,
on defense DePaul has been lacking, allowing teams to put up 75.1 points per
game on 45.8 percent shooting.
The Panthers are just too fundamentally sound on both ends of the floor, even
with Adams out, for the Blue Demons to have much of a chance. Expect the
Panthers to ride off into the Big East sunset (and the postseason) with a
Sports Network Predicted Tournament: Pittsburgh 78, DePaul 64
03/09 10:45:41 ET
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