Our #4 Panthers travel to the Pavilion to take on the #10 (not for long) ‘Nova wildcats. This might be Pitt’s hardest road test of the season. It’s Gameday, against ‘Nova, and they’re holding the game at the smaller Pavilion, a tougher atmosphere. Nova is on a 46-0 streak at this building. This statistic is very skewed though. Nova normally plays their big opponents at the Wachovia Center where the Sixers play, but ESPN decided to be retarded, and hold it in the 6,500 seat Pavilion (the Pete’s max is about 12,905 for reference). I mean, yeah, who would want more fans to see a top 10 matchup. Actually, Pitt fans like to see Pitt win against Nova, apparently. I think this game is a lot important for Villanova then it is for Pitt. A win would look GREAT for Pitt, but a loss would not be bad without Pitt’s leading scorer. For Nova, however, a win would be kinda tainted for them for taking us out with no Gibbs, but a loss may take the wind out of their sails a little bit.
Anyway, this will be the second game (most likely) that Ashton Gibbs is out with his MCL strain. He seemed to feel better on Thursday but Jamie Dixon said he didn’t anticipate seeing him suit up for the game. There’s been plenty of articles talking about how Pitt’s win over WVU was a “program” win, and I’ll be honest, I was real excited when we won that game. There are more and more articles talking about Jamie Dixon getting more out of “over looked, raw, non-electric” players, and it shows in games like the one against WVU. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised anymore. A friend of mine made the observation that a Final Four caliber team was sitting on the bench for that incredible 08-09 team. Who knew? Jamie Dixon even has his eyes set on more than a Final Four. Nobody knows if this is the team to do that, but Nova is a step on the way there. “1941” as the players say.
Anyway, to today’s game. Pitt is still top 25 in FG percentage, rebounds per game, and assists per game (top 5 in the latter 2). Nova is only top 50 in points per game and rebounds per game. Pitt has the #2 most efficient offense in the country, along with being #1 in offensive rebound percentage according to Pomeroy. The Wildcats are lead by the Corey’s, Fisher and Stokes. Corey Fisher (16.0 pts/game, 5.3 assists) and Stokes (14.6 pts/game, 1.4 assists/game)(UPDATE: Reports are Stokes is OUT for this game) are both 4 year seniors and know Pitt well. The Wildcats have 4 players that average double figures, but seem to be fairly mediocre at rebounding. This, right here is the key to the game. (Rebounding key for a Pitt team? No way!) Another key will be our post defense, trying to prevent Nova’s guards from penetrating the lane. If Gary can stay out of foul trouble (not normally a problem), he’ll be hard for them to get around. Another key, like the WVU game, is Woodall’s PG play. He did a perfect job of not trying to be Gibbs, and just running the offense and it worked perfectly. Woodall kept the offense whirring, and put up the game of his career. If he can do the same tonight, Pitt will be in very good shape.
A lot of people are saying Nova has the Game Day advantage, and having the whole crowd and atmosphere behind them. I think people are forgetting, though, that guys like Brad and Gil still have not forgotten the Elite Eight game, and will want to take it to them every time they play Nova. I certainly hope they repeat last year’s Pete performance:
Hail to Pitt