Pitt and Villanova share more than the fact they are two schools in the same state. Both rosters have connections, starting with teammates who played on the same high school team.
Travon Woodall will make his second consecutive start on the season on Saturday. Woodall, of course, went to St. Anthony in New Jersey where he was a teammate of Villanova's Dominic Cheek. Maalik Wayns and Brad Wanamaker were on the same team at Philadelphia's Roman Catholic. Corey Stokes and Lamar Patterson both went to St. Benedict's, but were never teammates.
Even more than high school, is that the group of seniors on both sides have made plays against the other school a number of times in this series. Gilbert Brown, Brad Wanamaker and Gary McGhee have made their contributions to this series on the Pitt side, just as Antonio Pena, Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher have for Villanova. Heading into this matchup, both coaches have seen the depth for both teams get even stronger through the years.
"What's so impressive about (Pitt) is the guys in this game returned from the group in 2009 that we played in the final eight," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "We said it back then and we still believe it now, that group was a Final Four team. Either one of us could have won that game. I think this team might be better just because of the depth. Depth and they have a little bit more skill level overall."
-In the conference-opener for both team in 2008, Pitt had the ball with 10 seconds to go, but it was a freshman by the name of Antonio Pena who came up with a steal as Villanova held on for the 64-63 win at The Pavilion. Pena finished with 12 points in that game. Brad Wanamaker played 12 minutes in that game, grabbing two rebounds. Corey Fisher scored four points in 20 minutes. Pitt hasn't played at The Pavilion since then.
-Later that season, it was a layup by Gilbert Brown that capped a second-half run by Pitt. Pitt trailed 38-37, then built an 18-point lead. Pitt won 69-57, just three weeks after that 64-63 loss to the Wildcats.
-In the final college basketball played at The Spectrum, Pitt suffered just its second loss of the season on January 28, 2009—a 67-57 loss to the Wildcats. Sophomore Brad Wanamaker reached double-figures for just the second time of his career, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Fisher added 9 points in the win.
-The game that still lingers in the memories of a lot of Pitt seniors, best remembered as the "Scottie Reynolds" game that Wright referred to earlier. Reynolds hit a buzzer beater to send Villanova to the Final Four, in a 78-7 win. Pena, Fisher and Corey Stokes—now all seniors for the Wildcats—were the only three players to come off the bench for the Wildcats that day. Stokes and Fisher combined for 16 points, while Pitt's three bench players of Brown, Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs combined for 13 points.
-Pitt defeated then No. 3 Villanova last February in Pittsburgh, 70-65. Gilbert Brown came off the bench to add 16 points.
"They have a good team," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "They have more scoring, but they don't have as much scoring on the perimeter. With everything, there's some give-and-take. You have more guys scoring inside, you have less guys scoring on the perimeter. It usually works that way. They're very good."