Pitt v. UConn. What More Could You Ask For?

Top spot in conference and bragging rights on the line tonight in Hartford.

So what is #1 UConn's (24-1/12-1) reward for a great run of basketball the past three weeks? A showdown with #4 Pitt(23-2/10-2) tonight in Hartford at 7 p.m. 

Pitt comes into the game Monday night, playing some of its best ball of the season.  They are averaging just over 86 points a game during their five-game winning streak, led by 6'6" senior Sam Young and 6'7" sophomore DeJuan Blair inside.

While 5'10" senior Levance Fields runs the show, this Panthers offense could be the biggest test of the year so far for UConn's stellar "D."

These two teams are mirror images of each other. They are very strong inside with heady leadership from their guards. Don't expect a lot of mistakes from this Pitt team. They come in averaging just under 12 turnovers a game and they love to spread the wealth around on offense. 

One key match up to watch for is the low-post battle between Hasheem Thabeet, coming off a career game, and Blair.  Last season, Blair got the best of Thabeet, but UConn held on for the win.  Look for UConn to try and get the big man involved early to get his confidence high. 

Pitt doesn't have great height inside, but they do have some wide bodies that love to bang and are very quick around the rim. 

UConn will need much better production from their guards and wing players. Saturday, those four players (AJ Price, Craig Austrie, Stanley Robinson, and Kemba Walker) were a combined 7-29 from the floor. That might be good enough to beat Seton Hall, but a performance like that against a top-five program will result in a loss. 

UConn must take better control of the ball.  Expect this game to be very tight and possessions will be at a premium.  That puts a lot of pressure on Price and Walker.  Both need to make smart decisions with the ball and not try to force too many passes. Pitt averages almost eight steals a game and would love to turn those turnovers into easy fast-break points.

Both these teams single this game out every year. They have developed quite a rivalry over the years and have defined themselves as the class of the Big East. A win by either side would go a long way into deciding the league title. 

These two teams will meet up again in March for the last game of the regular season. Don't be surprised to see these two face off again in the Big East championship game and possibly the Final Four. 

I expect a passionate and physical game tonight. The fans need to be loud early and often. Both these teams have a lot to prove and a win tonight by either one would be a huge stepping stone for the rest of their season. I just can't see Coach Calhoun letting his kids come out flat for this game. I think UConn will get the upper hand early and hold on for dear life at the end to secure a hard fought win.

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