Panthers set to play KENT STATE

Panther fans from coast to coast waited anxiously on Sunday to hear how Pitt would fare with their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. To their surprise, the Panthers drew an unforeseen 5 seed in the Oakland (West) bracket. Pitt is set to play the Kent State Golden Flashes on Friday in the first round.

The University of Pittsburgh (24-7) is set to play Kent State (25-8) on Friday. Most Panther fans remember playing the Golden Flashes during the 2002-03 season in the Sweet 16. Kent State upset Pitt 78-66 in overtime in a game held in Lexington, Kentucky. The Golden Flashes featured seniors Trevor Huffman, Andrew Mitchell, Demetric Shaw and Antonio Gates. Gates, currently a Pro Bowl tight end for the San Diego Chargers, was unstoppable during the game.

The Golden Flashes recently captured their third MAC title in the last six years. They played two Big East teams during the season: Syracuse and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights defeated the MAC champion 55-52 and the Orange did the same by the score of 78-66. The Golden Flashes are currently led by seniors Kevin Warzynski (6-foot-8 inches), Jay Youngblood (6-foot-5 inches), DeAndre Haynes (6-foot-2 inches) and former Schenley High School standout Nate Gerwig (6-foot-9 inches). Five different Flashes averaged double figures in the MAC Tournament. Youngblood currently leads the team with 14.7 points per game. Haynes leads the Flashes in assists (4) and steals (1.6) per game.

The Panthers would have to potentially defeat Kent State, Kansas, Memphis and Ben Howland's UCLA team to reach the Final 4. The Big East has conference record eight teams in the NCAA tournament. Basketball "experts" from around the nations generally agree that Cincinnati was snubbed. The Bearcats split 16 regular-season Big East games but won just 6 of their final 16 games.

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com.


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