Incredibly enough, just two months ago we were writing about the uncertainty of this Pitt basketball season after the loss of Aaron Gray, Levon Kendall, and Antonio Graves as the Panthers entered the 2007-2008 campaign with what looked to be a smaller, less physical team. Yet two months into the season, less two very important players, the Panthers are going to have to play physical, defensive, smart basketball to survive a daunting Big East schedule, which kicks off on Sunday at 17th-ranked Villanova.
The main problem with the Wildcats is the quickness of their guards, specifically Scottie Reynolds, the sophomore guard averaging nearly 17 ppg while also dishing out about 5 assists. His dribble penetration, if not guarded well by Benjamin and Ramon, could lead to quick fouls for Blair and Biggs. The Panthers also need to watch out for frosh guard Malcolm Grant and junior forward Shane Clark, the two Wildcats shooting the long ball at over a 45% clip. If Pitt wants to win this game, they’re going to need the big men inside, especially now that Villanova is without freshman Casiem Drummond, a 6’10″/280lb center averaging 8 points and 8 boards a game who is out because of injury.
Blair and Biggs will be extremely important, but Ramon and Benjamin will certainly both need to have great games, like they did against Lafayette. From this point on in, the Panthers aren’t going to have any cake games on their schedule- Cincinnati just upset Louisville, showing that this Big East schedule is gonna be tough top-to-bottom. Keys to this game are perimeter defense and rebounding, if Pitt can control both of those facets of the game, this Villanova team is certainly beatable.