First Step For Pitt Is Play-In Game

For the first time in school history, Pitt opens NCAA Tournament play against the victor of a play-in game.

There's certainly a lot of good teams in Pitt's Southeast region, and interestingly a lot of teams that Pitt has an NCAA Tournament history with.

Take for example No. 4 seed Wisconsin, who Pitt had a home-and-home series with just a few years ago. The Panthers eliminated the Badgers from the 2004 NCAA Tournament, which allowed them to advance to the Sweet 16. Pitt was eliminated by No. 7 seed UCLA in 2007 and No. 10 seed Michigan State in 2008.

Then there's others, such as last year's NCAA runner-up Butler, who is a No. 8 seed in this year's Southeast Region. While there's no history, Pitt players are still aware of what these teams have done.

"They got some good players on their team from last year; a team that made it to the championship last year, that started," Wanamaker said of Butler. "They got a good team coming back."

Butler takes on Old Dominion, who will no question bring a lot of fans to the Verizon Center this weekend, being just three hours away. The Monarchs lead the country in rebounding margin, just ahead of Pitt who is second.

"I watched them a couple days ago, and I saw that they were the number-one rebounding (margin) team in the country, with us being second," Wanamaker said of Old Dominion. "That would be a great battle of two teams that can rebound the ball."

There's a lot of familiarity between Pitt and a lot of the teams in its Southeast Region. Throw in conference foe St. John's for good measure. While there's either a history, or some intrigue in some of those opponents, Pitt must first await tonight's showdown between Arkansas-Little Rock (19-16) and UNC Asheville (19-13).

UNC Asheville won its Big South Conference championship game to get to the Tournament. The Bulldogs are led by guard Matt Dickey, who leads the team with 15.3 points a game. Joining Dickey in the backcourt is J.P Primm. Both players have accounted for more than half of the entire team's output in assists and three-pointers. D.J. Cunningham is the man in the paint, leading the team with 7.9 boards a game.

The Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock captured the Sun Belt Conference championship this year. It's the Trojans' first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years thanks to a three-pointer from Solomon Bozeman in the championship game against North Texas. Bozeman's name should sound familiar, as he originally played at South Florida, before transferring to Little Rock after his freshman year. He was second in the Big East in free throw percentage as a freshman in 2008.

"It's tough," guard Ashton Gibbs said about waiting to find out who the opponent is going to be. "At the same time, we get to watch them play. The fact that they play on Tuesday night, I think that's a good thing for us."


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