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March 3, 2007

By most metrics, this is expected to be a close game. The most accurate metric tends to be the betting line which has Marquette as a 1, maybe 1.5 point favorite. Might as well be a pick-em — which if you look at the “wagerline consensus” you see it as nearly split. Yeah, this is a game I wouldn’t want to wager on.

On the emotional side Marquette will be honoring not just their seniors, you have ESPN College GameDay pumping things up, and if that’s not enough the Golden Eagles will be honoring the 1977 Marquette Warriors team.

For Pitt, on the emotional side, it’s a chance to at least be co-Big East Regular Season Champ.

“Everyone is excited,” sophomore forward Tyrell Biggs said. “We just have to go out and take it.”

Pitt and Georgetown are tied atop the Big East standings with 12-3 records. Georgetown plays Connecticut at noon today, so the Panthers will know well in advance of their game whether they are playing for a share of the title or an undisputed championship.

I have to admit worrying a little if they let themselves slip a little emotionally assuming Georgetown wins and they know they can only be co-winner versus winning outright.

Emotion, though, can only matter so much. There’s a hell of a lot more to do with the actual way the teams play. Pitt wants to take better care of the ball.

Every Pitt player who played six weeks ago in the 77-74 overtime loss to Marquette had at least one thing in common.

And it’s something they don’t want to share again.

All nine who saw action turned the ball over at least one time. In no other game this season — or last season, for that matter — were the Panthers so unanimous in their generosity.

Some more consistent shooting would also be nice.

Of course, as myopic as any fan is concerning their own team, the Golden Eagles have been struggling.

A little more than three weeks ago, it seemed a virtual certainty that tonight’s game would determine the Big East champion. That’s probably a big reason why Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis and the rest of the ESPN Gameday crew will be at tonight’s game.

Pitt has held up its end of the bargain. A win against Marquette tonight would secure a tie with Georgetown for the Big East title. If Georgetown loses to Connecticut, the Panthers can win the conference outright.

Marquette, however, has lost four of its last five, and needs both Syracuse and Notre Dame to lose to even have a chance to have a bye in the first round of the Big East Tournament. While Marquette’s NCAA Tournament hopes are almost certainly safe, a win over Pittsburgh tonight would do a lot to bolster the Golden Eagles seed as they ready themselves for the postseason.

“We really need to shore some things up,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said earlier this week. “We have a lot of things to work on to get where we need to be.”

The inconsistency of the Golden Eagles seems to be why Seth Davis at SI.com is going with Pitt.

I’m sure Marquette will be pumped up in front of its home crowd, but I still think Pitt is the better team.

They have also had a week to prepare.

It also comes as no surprise that, with an entire week to prepare, MU enters the game not only fully apprised of the ramifications but also eager to enter the Big East Tournament on an upswing.

“They’ve got a championship at stake so we know we’re going to have to take their best shot. But we’re playing for something, too,” said sophomore guard Dominic James, who has factored prominently in each of the Golden Eagles’ previous three games with the Panthers.

“We’re playing for momentum going into the tournament; it’s our last home game, ‘College GameDay.’ But right now we should want it just because we lost our last game. We desperately need a win for this team to get that momentum and that confidence that we need going into the tournament.”

Especially since Dominic James isn’t exactly committing to returning to Marquette for his junior year at the moment. Of course it’s not a distraction. Nope, never.





Well, it seems if we don’t beat MU tonight we’ll be playing them again in the Quarters of the tourney (assuming they take care of St Johns). We’re going to have to beat them once this season, or our seasons is going to be very short.

If we win, we’ll be playing either WVU, Nova, Depaul, Providence, or even MU again. I’m not even going to try to figure out the tie breaker from the 9-7 pool of BE teams. We’ll get one of them.

Hopefully we play better than UCLA did today.

(I accidently posted this somewhere else earlier, sorry for double post).

Comment by Stuart 03.03.07 @ 6:25 pm

predictions tonight?…72-69 Pitt

Comment by scoocher 03.03.07 @ 7:54 pm

68-58 Pitt. Let’s go Panthers! We need this one.

Comment by Omar 03.03.07 @ 8:07 pm

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