I exchanged some questions for our big matchup on Tuesday.
Friarblog.com: Before this season, Pittsburgh has never been number 1…yet here we are in February, and you guys have already taken the top spot on two different occasions. Is anyone going to hold on to this thing before the tourney starts? Does it even matter to you, as long as you eventually get a #1 seed?
Chas: I won’t be surprised to see it change at least once or twice more. I won’t lie, it was great to get to the #1 ranking since it had never happened for Pitt. Several times, at #2, but never breaking through. The hope is that it is merely foreshadowing for what Pitt can do in the NCAA Tournament — having never won more than two games in the Dance — breakthrough.
Really, being #1 ranked isn’t a big concern in late February. All that matters is seeing a #1 next to Pitt in the NCAA Tournament bracket — and ideally having that as the final ranking in April.
Friarblog.com: I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but most Friar fans still hold Pittsburgh responsible for PC’s mediocreness over the past five years. In 2004, you guys came to Providence in March for a big game that meant first place in the BIG EAST and you just pasted us. Our team hasn’t been the same since. What do you remember about that game? You’d be surprised how often that game is referenced around Friartown.
Chas: You blame Pitt for the consistent slightly below average performance? I thought that was part of Welsh’s legacy. Have a team with promise, not beat anyone of note, win most of the other games that you should and then leave after a cup of coffee at the BET. Oh, and complain of how close that things could have been but for injuries and bad luck.
Okay, you know what, we’ll take it. That’s a bit flattering.
Actually I do remember that game somewhat. It was a big bounce back win for Pitt after losing to Syracuse at the Pete. I had to listen to the game on the computer and continually update for scores (I don’t live in a Big East market). Shut down Ryan Gomes. Welsh whined like crazy after that game about Pitt being too physical.
Friarblog.com: In both losses this year, DeJuan Blair got into some foul trouble. What do you think is another area of the game that could lead to a Providence upset? Don’t worry, I won’t blame you if you say “None”.
Chas: Well, there is Efejuku, Brooks and Curry having career nights from the perimeter. The three point shot is the great equalizer and that is part of the Friar legacy.
I never take a game for granted (DePaul excepted this year) out of sheer fear. It’s a road game, and a Friar team that absolutely needs a big win to make a case for the NCAA over the NIT.
The good news for Pitt is that the team has shown that it can handle teams that try to make the tempo go up, and can score a lot more than they have in Dixon’s tenure.
Friarblog.com: If you had to pick one of the following, what would it be?: DeJuan Blair missing the game due to food poisoning or Jim Burr and Ed Hightower strolling out onto the court to ref the game.
Chas: Food poisoning. At least in a regular season game.
Friarblog.com: If someone questioned Jamie Dixon’s salary, how would he react?
Chas: He’d probably give a sheepish grin. Definitely stammer a bit before referring to his “Pocket guide to coachspeak and cliches: How to speak without saying anything” to find the right way to say nothing.
Friarblog.com: Final Prediction or thoughts
Chas: I’m just hoping to be able to watch the game and not spend the night sick. I’ve got two kids with some nasty bug that is coursing through them — and being expelled at the top and bottom with volcanic fury. Today’s word of the day, kids: vasectomy.
Oh, you were looking for something pertaining to the actual game.
I expect Providence to keep it close if not lead for a bit in the first half. Definitely make Pitt a little nervous. In the second half, though, I think Pitt will pull away and come away with a 87-75 win.
Thanks Chas! Best of luck to Pitt for the rest of the year (after tonight), and in the NCAA tournament!