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Friday, March 03, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Seton Hall @ Pittsburgh

March 3, 2006

Pittsburgh looks to wrap-up an undefeated home season when they host the Seton Hall Pirates on senior night at the Peterson Events Center on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The Panthers are 7-0 at home in the Big East and 16-0 on the season.

Seton Hall got a MUCH needed win Tuesday night when they rallied at home to beat Cincinnati. Seton Hall is 4-6 on the road this year and have lost their last two away from Continental Airlines Arena, at St. John's and at DePaul.

Here are the pregame articles linked from around the internet:

Seton Hall-Pittsburgh Scouting Report (Courier News)
Tourney Fortune Hanging Over Hall (Star-Ledger)
Krauser: From Bronx Zoo to Oakland Zoo (Beaver County Times)
End of Era for Krauser (Tribune-Review)
Krauser's Final Home Game Tonight Against SHU (Post-Gazette)
Pitt Notebook (Tribune-Review)

To read our preview and see our game prediction, click read more below and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section!


The last time Seton Hall came to Pittsburgh on a night when they were celebrating senior night with an emotional sendoff for one of their beloved point guards, the Pirates limped home after a 31-pt thrashing as the Pitt faithful celebrated the career of Brandin Knight. Tonight, the Oakland Zoo will be looking to send off Carl Krauser in a similar fashion.

The Panthers enter the game as 12-pt favorites against Seton Hall. The Pirates have been quite a story themselves this year. Picked by many, including me, to be dead in the water in the new Big East and likely to be just playing out the string by this time with no hope of a Big East Tournament bid, Louis Orr and his team have done a remarkable job in putting themselves in position for an NCAA Tournament bid. Wins over Cincinnati and West Virginia recently at home and road wins against North Carolina St and Syracuse, with at least a .500 record in the Big East, should be enough to get the Pirates a bid next Sunday.

Seton Hall is a team that plays hard for 40 minutes, a tribute to the coach they are playing for. Despite having some of the lowest lows, the Pirates always seem to bounce back with effort and defense, and those factors can be a giant equalizer. They are led by seniors Donald Copeland, who averages almost 16 PPG, and Kelly Whitney, who averages 15 PPG and 8 rebounds. Jamar Nutter is their hot-shooting 2-guard that also adds over 12 PPG and when he starts dialing in from beyond the arc, the Pirate offense becomes more balanced, creating space for Whitney inside and Copeland outside. Brian Laing and Grant Billmeier round out the starting line-up and Paul Gause, instant offense off the bench, and Stan Gaines, their top defender, provide solid depth. David Palmer and Marcus Cousin round out the rotation, providing some frontcourt help, which against Pittsburgh, is usually needed.

The Panthers are led by Krauser and junior 7'0 C Aaron Gray. On the season, Gray is averaging 14 PPG and 10 rebounds, and those numbers are higher in the Big East. Gray is a definite load inside that will challenge Billmeier and Cousin on every trip. With Billmeier and Cousin, Gray probably will not find himself challenged often on defense. Seton Hall could opt to go small with Whitney, a smaller and quicker post player, as their 5, but the Pitt size, with 6'9 Levon Kendall, would be at a great advantage. Kendall will get the assignment with Whitney. Kendall is one of the better post-defenders in the conference and is widely underappreciated outside of the Pitt staff. You know he is doing something right if he keeps playing ahead of athletic freshmen Sam Young. Another freshmen Tyrell Biggs adds depth. Krauser starts in the backcourt and Ronald Ramon and Levance Fields split time at the point. Antonio Graves, Keith Benjamin and John DeGroat, the other senior, also share time on the wing, giving Pitt a true 10-man rotation. They do not go to 10 out of necessity, they go to 10 because they can.

Seton Hall is still trying to insure they get a bid to the NCAA Tournament. A win over Pittsburgh would guarantee them a spot, so they have a lot riding on this game. With their win over Cincinnati, I do not think this is a must-win game, but it would definitely be huge. Pittsburgh still hopes for a bye in the Big East tournament, although it would take Georgetown losing to South Florida over the weekend, which is highly unlikely, but, Pitt knows they can cap off a very good season and great career of Carl Krauser with a strong performance tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 76 Seton hall 63


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