March 3, 2009
#13 MARQUETTE (23-6, 12-4 Big East) at #3 PITT (26-3, 13-3 Big East)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 7:30 p.m. ET Petersen Events Center (12,508) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: ESPN2/ESPN-360 (Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale; Producer: Steve Ackels).
Radio: Pitt Panthers/ISP Sports Radio Network (Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat), 94.5-FM (WWSW), 970 AM (WBGG). Satellite Radio: Channel 130 (Pitt feed).
Internet Radio Broadcast/Live Stats: www.pittsburghpanthers.com
The Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 10th year at Pitt, 6th year as head coach (158-43); Marquette: Buzz Williams, 1st year at MU (23-6), 2nd year overall (37-23).
Rankings: Pitt: 3-AP, 4-ESPN; Marquette: 13-AP, 15-ESPN.
Series: Pitt and Marquette meet for the 12th time. Pitt is 5-6 all-time vs. Marquette and has won two of the last three meetings. Pitt enters the game with a 20-8 record vs. Big East schools that were added in 2005-06: Cincinnati 5-1, DePaul: 5-0, Louisville 4-3, Marquette 3-4, South Florida 3-0.
No. 3 ranked Pitt (26-3, 13-3 Big East) hosts Big East rival and No. 13 ranked Marquette (23-6, 12-4 Big East) Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET. Pitt's final regular season game is Saturday against Connecticut.
The Pitt-Marquette contest will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2 with Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale calling action. Steve Ackels will handle production.
Pitt enters the game after having won eight of its last nine contests. At 13-3, Pitt is currently in third place in the Big East standings trailing No. 1 Connecticut (15-2) and No. 2. Louisville (14-2). Marquette is in fourth place with a 12-4 record and Villanova is fifth (11-5). Pitt needs one more win or a Villanova loss to secure one of the league's top-four spots and subesquent two-day bye for the Big East Tournament. Pitt can claim a share of the Big East regular season title if it can win each of its last two games and Louisville loses at least one game.
A win would give Pitt a school-record 14th Big East victory. Pitt tied the record with its 13th win at Seton Hall on Saturday. Pitt has won 13 Big East games three times in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. A victory would also tie Pitt's senior class of Tyrell Biggs, Levance Fields and Sam Young for first place on the school's all-time four-year victory list. The school record is a 108 wins set by the 2004-05 senior class of Chevon Troutman and Mark McCarroll. The current class has a 107-29 record.
Pitt has won 20 or more overall games and 10 or more league games for the eighth consecutive season. Pitt is the only Big East program to win 20 overall games and 10-plus league games in each of the last eight seasons. Jamie Dixon became the first head coach in school history to win 20-plus games in six straight years.
Despite a loss to Providence on Feb. 24, Pitt continues to the lead the nation in Ratings Percentage Index according to realtimepri.com. Pitt's strength of schedule is ranked No. 16 nationally. Pitt is No. 1 in RPI at .6687, Duke is No. 2 at .6651, North Carolina is No. 3 with a .6572 mark and Connecticut is No. 4 at .6550.
Pitt's 26-3 record ties for the school's all-time best record after 29 games played. Pitt also began 26-3 in Jamie Dixon's first year in 2003-04. Pitt was 24-4 in both 2002-03 and 2006-07, 23-6 in 2005-06, 1986-87 and 1987-88 and 20-8 in 2007-08. A sidenote: Pitt finished an undefeated 21-0 en route to the mythical national title in 1927-28.
Through its first 29 games, Pitt has outscored its opponents by a plus-15.0 margin and outrebounded its opponents by a plus-10.9 margin. The Panthers are also converting 48.2 percent (854-1771) of their field goal attempts and limiting opponents to 41.1 percent shooting. Pitt has also held 24 of its 29 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. 26, 2009). As a team, Pitt ranks first nationally in rebound margin (10.5), ranks second in assist:turnover ratio (1.52), third in winning percentage (89.3), sixth in both assists per game (17.9) and scoring margin (15.1). The Panthers also rank 16th in turnovers per game (11.8) and 22nd in field goal percentage (48.1).
Several Pitt players are also ranked among national leaders in various statistical categories (as of March 1, 2009). Levance Fields leads the nation in assist:turnover ratio (3.98) and ranks third in assists per game (7.4). DeJuan Blair ranks third nationally in rebounding (12.7) 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. 16 in field goal percentage (59.7). Sam Young is rated 97th in field goal percentage (49.9) and 67th in scoring (18.0).
No. 3 Pitt enters the game after having won eight of its last nine games. Pitt's recent six-game win streak in league play ranked among the school's top-5 win streaks in Big East play. Last week, Pitt ascended to the nation's No. 1 spot for the second time in school history. The Panthers are 3-2 as the nation's No. 1 team.
It bounced back from an 81-73 loss at Providence on Feb. 24 with an 89-78 win at Seton Hall on Saturday. Sam Young scored a game-high 29 points and Pitt claimed the win despite committing 23 turnovers on the evening. Against Providence, Pitt battled back from a 20-point deficit but could not close the gap in the loss. Providence shot 49.1 percent from the floor and hit 22-29 free throws to claim the win.
Marquette and Pitt meet for the 12th time in series history with the Golden Eagles owning a 6-5 advantage in the series. Pitt is 2-1 vs. Marquette in games played in Pittsburgh. The Golden Eagles are led by Jerel McNeal's 19.8 ppg., Wesley Matthews' 18.8 ppg. and Lazar Hayward's 15.9 ppg. Dominic James is sidelined for the season with a broken foot.
TODAY'S TOP STORYLINES
Two top-25 teams will meet for the 10th time in Petersen Events Center history.
Pitt has won 19 straight home games and carries a 113-10 all-time record (.919 percentage) in the Petersen Events Center. Pitt also owns a 47-9 record vs. Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt is also an undefeated 17-0 at home this year.
A Pitt win would give the Panthers a school-record 14 Big East victories on the year. A win would also give Pitt's senior class a school-record tying 108 career wins.
At 26-3 and 13-3, 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's 19-game home win streak ranks tied for the third longest current home win streak in NCAA Division I: 40-Kansas, 33-Utah State, 19-Pitt, 19-Cornell, 19-Dayton.