Yet, every on-line and on-paper bracket I've filled out has Pitt winning the title over Connecticut. ">
Yet, every on-line and on-paper bracket I've filled out has Pitt winning the title over Connecticut. ">

Why Pitt will win the "Big Dance"

I know what you're thinking. I've gone crazy; "One Man's Thoughts" has turned into "One Man's Psychosis". But, hear me out. Pitt will win the NCAA tournament. My prediction is a big gamble, one that many a "fair weather" or "blood and guts" fan would be unwilling to make.<br><br> Yet, every on-line and on-paper bracket I've filled out has Pitt winning the title over Connecticut.

I'll tell you when I was certain these two teams would meet again: The Big East Championship Game. There was not a better-played tournament game this past week. Every time one team punched, the other team punched back. Both teams were on the ropes at one time and both bounced back to dominate play. The game came down to the final shot. And with .5 seconds left on the clock, Pitt got a great look-off before the buzzer (yes I know it wouldn't have mattered, but one hopes that Julius Page will be aware of where he's standing next time).

Regardless of how I came to this conclusion, the table is set for the Panthers to take that final step and it should be a leap. Why? It's all about match-ups. The Panthers have gotten into a region where they are the biggest and toughest team inside the paint.

Wisconsin? They have Devin Harris, who is their only true weapon. Oklahoma State? Good guard play and toughness, but our inside game is stronger and bigger. Wake Forest? Don't make me laugh. They disappeared in big games all season. St Joseph's? Well, let's just say the Panthers wouldn't need to take a shot from the outside all game and they'd still beat St. Joe's.

I know Pitt got a raw deal playing in Wisconsin, but if they can win that second round game (and it says here they will), they'll be able to win any game in this tournament. Besides, who says Wisconsin can get past the pesky Richmond Spiders, who are known for their first round upsets (right Syracuse faithful?).

In fact, Pitt doesn't really need the welcomed return of offense from Julius Page until the Final Four, when they'd meet Kentucky. And even then the Wildcats don't have the inside strength to beat the Panthers.

The game that most concerns me at this point is Oklahoma State. Still, I find it hard to believe the Panthers would let an opportunity like this slip by. It would be the first year that they would not be favored to win the Sweet Sixteen match-up and the Panthers always play better when they aren't the favorites.

When watching these next 6 games, the biggest stat to pay attention to is rebounding. If Pitt out-rebounds these opponents, and with their strength and size inside they can do that, they should have very little trouble winning even though a Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson or Ben Gordon may be lighting it up from the outside.


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