Feb. 15, 2009
#4 PITT (23-2, 10-2 Big East) at #1 CONNECTICUT (24-1, 12-1 Big East)
Monday, February 16, 2009 7 p.m. ET XL Center (16,294) Hartford, Conn.
Television: ESPN/ESPN 360 (Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery, Jay Bilas; Producer: Bo Garrett).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 127 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (155-42); Connecticut: Jim Calhoun, 23rd year at UConn (616-201), 37th year overall (798-338).
Rankings: Pitt: 4-AP, 4-ESPN; Connecticut: 1-AP, 1-ESPN (as of Feb. 9, 2009).
Series: Pitt and Connecticut meet for the 55th time in series history. Pitt is 24-30 all-time vs. Connecticut with a 5-5 record over the series' last 10 games played. Pitt is 1-6 vs. UConn on the road since the 1998 season. Pitt is 0-13 all-time vs. the nation's No. 1 ranked team.
HARTFORD, Conn.--No. 4 ranked Pitt (23-2, 10-2 Big East) travels to Hartford, Conn. to take on No. 1 ranked Connecticut (24-1, 12-1 Big East) Monday night at the XL Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.
The "Big Monday" contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas calling action. Bo Garrett will handle production.
The matchup pairs each of the Big East's top two winningest programs of the 21st Century. Both programs have spent time this year as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Since the 2001-02 season, Pitt has compiled the Big East's best overall winning percentage (.800, 212-53), while Connecticut ranks second (.773, 201-59). Over that same period, UConn currently owns the Big East's best league winning percentage (.732, 93-34), while Pitt is a close second (.722, 91-35). During that period, Pitt has made seven NCAA Tournament appearances while UConn has made six. Both schools rank among the nation's top-six programs with four NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances in the last seven years. The two schools have also met in three of the last seven Big East Championship Finals. Over the series' last 10 games, the series is tied at 5-5. The two teams will meet again in Pittsburgh on March 7.
Both teams enter the contest ranked among the nation's top-5 programs. The last time Pitt and UConn met when both teams were ranked among the nation's top-5 was on Feb. 15, 2004. No. 4 Pitt claimed a 75-68 win over No. 5 UConn at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt has won 20 or more overall games and 10 or more league games for the eighth consective season. Jamie Dixon became the first coach in school history to win 20-plus games in six straight years. Pitt is the only Big East program to win 20 overall games and 10-plus league games in each of the last eight seasons.
Pitt faces the nation's No. 1 ranked team for the 13th time in school history. Pitt is 0-13 all-time vs. the No. 1 ranked team with its last three meetings coming against Connecticut.
Pitt enters the game after scoring over 85 points in four its last five games. Pitt scored over 90 points in three straight games (93-Notre Dame, 92-Robert Morris and 92-DePaul) for the first time in 18 years. Previously, the last time Pitt scored 90 or more points in three straight games was from Dec. 6-15, 1990 when it defeated Marshall (105), West Virginia (96) and Robert Morris (98) in consecutive games.
Pitt's 23-2 record ties for the school's all-time best record after 25 games played. Pitt also began 23-2 in Jamie Dixon's first year in 2003-04 and 23-2 in 1929-30, 22-3 in 2006-07, 21-4 in 1987-88, 2002-03 and 2005-06, and 20-5 in 2007-08. A sidenote: Pitt finished an undefeated 21-0 en route to the mythical national title in 1927-28.
Through its first 25 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-16.2 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-9.8 margin. The Panthers are also converting 48.6 percent (739-1521) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 40.3 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 22 of its 25 opponents to 70 points or less and 11 teams to 60 points or less. Pitt is ranked among the nation's top-10 teams in five statistical categories (as of Feb. 12, 2009). It leads the nation in rebound margin (10.1), ranks second in assist:turnover ratio (1.54) and ranks fourth in assists per game (18.1), scoring margin (16.2) and winning percentage (91.7).
Several Pitt players are ranked among national leaders in various statistical categories (as of Feb. 12, 2009). Levance Fields leads the nation in assist:turnover ratio (3.87) and ranks second in assists per game (7.4). DeJuan Blair ranks fifth nationally in rebounding (12.6) and leads the nation in offensive rebounds with 5.8 orpg according to StatsLLC (Note: the NCAA does not rank top offensive rebounders). He is also ranked No. 20 in field goal percentage (59.4). Sam Young is also rated 72nd in scoring (17.9).
Following a loss at No. 21 Villanova (Jan. 28), Pitt has bounced back with five consecutive wins. Pitt enters the UConn contest after defeating Cincinnati 85-69 on Saturday. Levance Fields finished with the fifth double-double of his career (11 points and 13 assists) along with no turnovers as Pitt tied a school record with a 67.4 field goal percentage (31-46) in the win. Sam Young led Pitt with 18 points, DeJuan Blair added 17 points, Jermaine Dixon finished with 14 and Gilbert Brown had 12. Pitt also defeated West Virginia 70-59 on Monday, Feb. 9. The Panthers took control of the game with a 13-3 run in the first half. Young scored 20 points and Fields added 13 points as Pitt held WVU to 40 percent field goal shooting.
Connecticut and Pitt meet for the 55th time in series history. Pitt owns a 24-30 all-time record vs. UConn and is 9-14 vs. the Huskies in games played in the state of Connecticut. Pitt has claimed just one win over the two school's last seven meetings played in Connecticut.
Connecticut is led by Jeff Adrien (14.0 ppg./10.1 rpg.), Hasheem Thabeet (13.5 ppg./10.8 rpg.) and A.J. Price (12.1 ppg.). Third-leading scorer Jerome Dyson (13.2 ppg.) is out for the season with an injury.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Today's matchup features the Big East's top two winningest programs over the last eight seasons. Since the 2001-02 season, Pitt owns a 212-53 overall record and 91-35 Big East record. During that stretch, UConn is 201-59 overall and 93-34 in Big East play.
Both teams are ranked among the nation's top-5. It marks the second game in series history that both teams entered the game ranked among the nation's top-5, the last was on Feb. 15, 2004 in Pittsburgh.
Pitt is 5-2 in road games and 4-2 in Big East road games this year. Under Jamie Dixon, Pitt is 27-15 all-time in Big East road games.
At 23-2 and 10-2, Pitt is the only Big East school to win 20 overall games and 10-plus league games in each of the last eight seasons. Dixon is the only Pitt coach in school history to win 20 or more overall games in six straight seasons.
Pitt is 0-13 all-time vs. the nation's No. 1 ranked team.