Monday, March 23, 2009

Xavier vs Pitt should be another grinder.

Sean Miller offers further proof that a coach knows his team better than he knows himself. The way Xavier played Wisconsin Sunday is the exact blueprint Miller laid out. It worked darn near to perfection. But what will the blueprint be against Pitt? Like Wisconsin, Pitt loves the grind it out, defensive type of affair. The rub is this: Pitt has an offense, and a very good one, averaging 78 points per game. Does Wisconsin even have an offense? In a word, no. Also, Pitt rebounds the ball on both ends of the floor. The Panthers are just a shade behind Michigan State for tops in rebounding margin. Xavier is right there, ranked 5th heading into the tournament. From a style and statistical standpoint, I see these teams as very similar. Except for DeJuan Blair. The 6'7", 265 lb. Sherman tank had 27 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Oklahoma State Sunday. Heck, he averaged about 16 ppg and 12 rpg during the season. But Pitt has no one behind him if he gets in foul trouble. Xavier has two big men (Love and Frease) to run at Blair. That's 9-10 fouls to get 5 on Blair. I look for Xavier to go at him early and see what happens.

Other notes of interest: Pitt has never made it past the sweet 16 since the field expanded to 64 teams.
The Panthers made it to the Elite Eight in 1974, but the field was 32 teams and it took just 2 wins to make it. Two wins is the best Pitt has ever managed in an NCAA tournament. The Panther did go to the Final Four in 1941, but the NCAA tournament consisted of just 8 teams. Pitt's lone win in that tournament put the Panthers in the Final Four where they lost to eventual 1941 champ Wisconsin, 36-30.
Sean Miller shares the Pitt record for most minutes played in an NCAA tournament game, playing all 45 in an overtime game against Vandy in 1988. Sean is second in career tournament assists, and second on Pitt's all-time assists list. Sean is second only to current Pitt point guard Levance Fields in assists to turnover ratio.
Sean doing his thing at Pitt:

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