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Friday, February 27, 2009


February 28, 2009

Seton Hall and Pittsburgh meet Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark (NJ) in front of a sellout crowd as the Pirate faithful hope to send off senior Paul Gause a winner in his home finale. In order to do so, they will have to do a first in their history, knock off the #1 team in the country.

While Pitt may be ranked #1, it certainly seems to have been forgotten as the Panthers were stunned on Tuesday night in Providence. The Frairs swarmed a lethargic group of Panthers, closing the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 44-26 halftime lead and held off a charge from Pitt that was too little too late in a 81-73 upset.

While it took Pitt nearly 30 minutes to wake up on Tuesday as they cut a 20-point deficit to five, that lack of focus to begin the game costs them. They will be heading into another charged atmosphere on Saturday night, but you can definitely expect the Panthers to be playing with a little more urgency on both ends of the floor to begin the game Saturday.

Seton Hall is likely to come out and try to push the Panthers into a frantic pace and hope to draw some fouls against the Panthers, especially big man DeJuan Blair. The Pirates are very thin, but they have some offensive talent and could cause some problems for Pitt on defense with dribble penetration and spreading the floor. If they can get Pitt on their heels and able to break down the defense off the dribble, they could challenge Blair and possibly get him in foul trouble.

The other aspect offensively that SHU will hope to have clicking is the three-ball, especially from Jeremy Hazell. If Hazell can knock down a few three’s, it could cause Pitt to go to a smaller line-up to match-up with the Pirates and it will also get the crowd in a frenzy. Hazell has the ability to get on a big time roll from the arc, and if that happens, look out.

Pitt will need Levance Fields to control the tempo and feed Sam Young and Blair on offense. Those two should be nearly unstoppable near or around the basket and SHU will likely have to concede some points in the paint. The dangerous one is Young, when he gets his offense going, his all-around game seems to pick up considerably. If he attacks the basket and knocks down some mid-range shots early, he is tough to stop and opens more room for Blair to dominate the offensive boards. John Garcia will have his hands full against Blair, who is bulkier and more athletic than Garcia.

Seton Hall is likely to put up one of their best efforts of the season in this game. However, Pitt coming off the loss at PC will likely have the Panthers ready to put forth a big effort on their end. While SHU will excite the home crowd at times, look for Pitt to slowly take control and use their depth and strength inside to come up with a win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 78
Seton Hall 72

Seton Hall Determined to Make Postseason for Paul Gause (Star-Ledger)
Pitt Hopes to Avoid Deja Vu Against Seton Hall (Tribune-Review)
Young, Fields Flying Under the Radar (Tribune-Review)



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