Pittsburgh Panthers 12-2
Head Coach: Jamie Dixon 175-47 record in 7th season
2009/2010 Record: 12-2
Key Players: Guard Ashton Gibbs 16.9 ppg and guard Brandon Wanamaker 12.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg,
Five Things to Watch:
1. Pittsburgh backcourt, coming off a game where the three starting guards combined for 57 points against syracuse.
2. The Panthers are the number one defensive team in the Big East averaging just 55.9 points allowed per contest.
3. They Panthers struggle offensively only averaging 66.2 points per game which is 15th out of the 16 Big East teams.
4. Pittsburgh is also worst in the Big East in turnover margin, there -2.2 and don't protect the basketball well.
5. Ashton Gibbs is leading the Big East in free throw percentage at 93.8 percent meaning you cant be behind late as he has the ability to close the door.
Key Matchups to Watch:
Ashton Gibbs vs. Deonta Vaughn
Gibbs the 6'2 combo guard is a lot like senior Deonta Vaughn, Vaughn must use his experience advantage to slow down Gibbs, as Gibbs goes so do the Panthers. Vaughn has shot the ball well lately and needs to make Gibbs defend him on the offensive end of the floor to where down the sophomore who is currently eleventh in the Big East in scoring.
Cincinnati Interior vs. Pittsburgh Interior
Pittsburgh is known for their tough interior defense and ability to rebound the basketball. Pittsburgh is over plus eight in rebounding margin this season and so is Cincinnati. This will be a clash of two physical front lines, who both are great rebounding teams, so something will have to give. Yancy Gates must give the Bearcats an offensive presence in the paint to give Cincinnati a chance to beat Pitt who is currently 2-0 in the Big East. This could definitely come down to who wants it more Monday Night at Fifth Third Arena.
Keys for Bearcats
1. Home games are huge for team in conference play, especially in Big East play. Mick Cronin said this about this very situation, "You gotta win your home games in conference play, you gotta win the first one if you're going to win all nine."
2. Yancy Gates must be more involved offensively.
3. Get off to a fast start and get crowd involved like the Bearcats did Wednesday night.
4. Create turnovers, Pittsburgh really struggles with turnover margin.
5. Yancy Gates, Ibrahima Thomas, and Steve Toyloy must control the paint as that it one of Pittsburgh's biggest strengths.
Cincinnati Leads All-Time Series: 7-6, (UC leads 5-1 at Fifth Third Arena) Last season Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati 85-69.