Things have been rather quiet around these parts (I can only link to / talk about the defense problem so much without wanting to smash my laptop Office Space style), but we are almost at the conference finish line. The Provience (get it, no D!! hahahaha, I’m here all night!) Friars have two games to go, starting tonight with a nationally televised game against Pittsburgh at the Pete. All our defensive woes aside, there are other reasons to be worried here. 1) It’s a road game against another ranked team. 2) Pitt is going to be motivated to get that sweet double-bye in the BIG EAST Tournament. 3) Pitt wants payback for getting beat whilst ranked #1 last year on our Senior Night). Yikes. Let’s see if the Friars can muster any motivation on their end — after all, they have been the butt of many jokes in the media concerning their defense. It’s obviously not something that is going to change with a flip of the switch, but the effort should be there tonight at least.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 9:00PM
Opponent: Pittsburgh Panthers (22-7, 11-5)
Location: The Pete
Spread: Pittsburgh -11.5
ESPN AccuScore Prediction: Pitt 79, PC 71 (Pitt wins 67/1% in 10,000 sims)
CBS Prediction: Pitt 81, PC 66
Pomeroy Prediction: Pitt 82, PC 70 (86% confidence)
WHAT TO: READ
The Friars return to action on Thursday, March 4 at No. 17/18 Pittsburgh. PC has posted a 17-27 record all-time versus Pitt. PC is 13-8 all-time at home versus Pitt, 3-18 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites. The two teams first met on March 18, 1975 with the Friars earning a 101-80 win at Madison Square Garden in the NIT. Last year, the Friars defeated the top-ranked Panthers, 81-73, on February 24, 2009. The Friar victory ended an eight-game losing streak versus Pittsburgh. Pitt’s last win over the Friars was an 82-63 victory at Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008.
PittsburghPanthers.com: No. 17 Men’s Basketball Hosts Providence on Thursday at 9 p.m.
The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with John Saunders (play-by-play) and Mike Kelley (color analyst) calling action. Eric Mosley will handle production.
As Pittsburgh coach Jaime Dixon says, the Friars’ up-and-down, no-defense style is not usually seen in the Big East and clearly cannot work. “They do things a little different than I’d say most teams in the Big East do,” said Dixon. “So, with that, you are going to have higher-scoring games.”
Projo.com: Capsule preview: PC at Pittsburgh
The Panthers lost four of five games in late January but have won six of their last seven to cement their position as an NCAA Tournament team for the ninth season in a row
Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Pitt knows to be wary of Providence
It was a little more than a year ago that Pitt, with a No. 1 ranking in tow after seven consecutive victories, got drilled at Providence, 81-73, by a team that had lost five of its previous seven games.
So when No. 17 Pitt plays host to Providence tonight at the Petersen Events Center don’t expect the Panthers to underestimate the struggling Friars.
“That’s part of being in the Big East,” sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs said. “Anyone can be beaten on any given night. We didn’t come out strong. We came out lackadaisical. We came out really lazy, and they took advantage. Before you knew it, we were down 20.
“We’re definitely thinking about last year. But, at the same time, we want to treat it like any other game and play our hardest.”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Providence’s Peterson a big problem for Pitt
Peterson has come out of relative obscurity to average a team-high 19.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward has notched a Big East-leading 14 double-doubles this season — four more than Pitt has as a team — as well as a bunch of highlight-reel dunks.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “He’s strong enough to play inside and versatile enough to play on the outside.”
Pitt (22-7, 11-5) will look to exploit the Providence defense, which is the worst in the Big East, giving up an average 81.2 points per game. Comparatively, the Panthers rank first in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 61.7 points per game.
American Chronicle: Pitt preps for a porous Providence defense
“We’re just going to try to play our game,” Pitt guard Jermaine Dixon said. “Even though they are struggling, they have stayed in with some big-name teams. They get up for the competition. We are just going to do what we do.”
The Sports Network: Big East action pits Panthers against Friars
The 17th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers will try to secure a double-bye in the Big East Tournament tonight, as they host the Providence Friars at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt Blather: If Providence Played Defense…
The Friars are not a particularly big team so there are no big match-up probles for Pitt, but as we saw last week against ND teams that can drive and shoot from outside can be more of a problem for Pitt. Regardless of their overall size.
WHAT TO: WATCH
When we played WV, I already showed the entire end of regulation plus the 3 OT game against Pitt. So, here is a different Pitt game clip.
WHERE TO: WATCH
The game will be carried on ESPN2
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
As always, I’ll be on Twitter @friarblog with in-game updates.