Recent History: Villanova and Pittsburgh seem to always play each other tough and the series record reflects that, with Nova holding a slight 30-27 edge. Last season these teams played each other twice and the home team won both times to split the season series. Nova edged out Pitt in the first game 64-63 at the Pavilion, led by Malcolm Grant's 22 points. The second contest was a little more lopsided, with Pitt winning 69-57, and Nova was led by Scottie Reynolds' 26 points. DeJuan Blair had a double-double in both games and dominated the boards (15 and 14 rebounds). Pitt went on to win the Big East Tournament and earned a 4-seed in the NCAAs, losing to Michigan State in the second round. The Panthers lost a few seniors (Mike Cook, Keith Benjamin, Ronald Ramon), but the main difference from this year's squad is the return of super-senior Levance Fields. Fields is a point guard in the truest sense, averaging 6.9 assists to 1.9 turnovers, and he really makes the offense go. Sam Young leads the team in scoring at 18.8 per game, and Blair is averaging a double-double (14.7 pts and 12.7 reb).
Best Win:78-60 vs. then #8 Syracuse
Worst Only Loss: 69-63 @ then #20 Louisville
Famous Alumni: Mike Ditka, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Gray, Dan Marino, Curtis Martin, Marty Schottenheimer, Mark Blount
Pitt has reach the championship game of the Big East Tournament seven of the past eight years.
Pitt has made the NCAA Tournament seven straight years.
Earlier this season Pitt was ranked #1 nationally for the first time in school history.
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Final Verdict: Pitt presents a tough test for Villanova. Antonio Pena and Dante Cunningham need to stay in the game to battle DeJuan Blair on the boards. Scottie Reynolds needs to look to score aggressively. I'm still waiting for that breakout game from Corey Stokes in Big East play... this would be a conveinvent time. Villanova is still looking for that stand-out victory, and a win here would do wonders for their tournament resume. I see this one being close and low scoring, like the Louisville game, but unlike then, hopefully Nova can pull out a win at the end of this one.