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06 March 2009

Panthers ready for UCONN, Levance Fields doubtful

A team insider has reported that Levance sustained a groin injury when he was injured during the Marquette game on Wednesday. I also know that today he got around on crutches and that he has not worked out over the past two days. In his absence, Ashton Gibbs may get the start at the point. Brad Wannamaker and Jermaine Dixon also will spell him, in that order, most likely. The bottom line is that Pitt can beat UCONN without him.

Pitt has fared well against ranked teams at the Pete, going 9-3 overall. Against top 5 teams, Pitt has never lost since it moved into its current home (which was for the 2002-2003 season). Here is how Pitt has done against top 5 opponents at the Pete.

Jan. 14, 2008
No. 5
W, 69-60
Jan. 29, 2005
No. 4
W, 76-69
Feb. 15, 2004
No. 5
W, 75-68
Jan. 6, 2003
No. 5
Notre Dame
W, 72-55

Tomorrow is also senior day, and this senior class of Tyrell Biggs, Sam Young and Levance Fields have a chance to become the winningest class in Pitt history. They are currently tied with the 2004-2005 senior class of Mark McCarroll and Chevy Troutman, which won 108 games.

In their four-year tenure, this class has had four consecutive 20-win seasons and 10-win Big East regular seasons, which makes them the only class in the league to do so in that span, and they reached the Big East Tournament final three times, the NCAA Sweet 16 once and achieved its first-ever No. 1 national ranking.

Pitt also looks to become only the 6th team to beat a #1 ranked team twice in one season. In this instance, it would be UCONN twice.

DeJuan Blair is ready for the game. He had some great quotes today:

"It's March, c'mon. March is when big players step up. I'm here."

"I'm not scared of anybody," Blair said. "I just hope the refs let us play. I hope Thabeet is on the court all day, and I hope I am, too. That's what the crowd wants to see."

"I hope he (Thabeet) shows up with an 'I'm going to kill DeJuan' attitude," Blair said yesterday, "because DeJuan already has that attitude for him. It should make for a beautiful game."

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun on DeJuan Blair:

"If I can't vote for my guy, which I can't [because of conference voting rules]," Calhoun said of Thabeet, "it's tough to make the argument that [Blair] isn't the MVP of our league. At times, he's unstoppable inside. He's an amazing, amazing player. [Pitt senior Tyrell] Biggs is a nice player, but if you put him inside, it's not the same. We were out of kilter that night because Blair took us out of kilter. We didn't have an answer for him."

Meanwhile, check out what Hasheem Thabeet said:

Hasheem Thabeet told the Hartford Courant that "it is not about Hasheem against Pittsburgh. It's about UConn basketball." True, but a repeat of Thabeet's last performance against Pitt (five points, four boards) would not bode well for the Huskies' chances against the Panthers.

Pitt is 18-0 at home. With a win tomorrow, Pitt will have 2 perfect home seasons since they moved into the Pete. Connecticut has yet to lose on the road yet, going a perfect 9-0. Something will give tomorrow.

I'll be there in my seat before tipoff. The Pete will be rockin. It should be fun!

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