Pitt Gets 4 Seed, Faces Oral Roberts Thursday

Like many fans from the East, Pitt junior forward Sam Young was rooting for the Panthers to be placed in the Washington, D.C. sub-regional for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but Young -- a Clinton, Md. native -- didn't get his wish.

Pittsburgh (26-9), the Big East Conference champion, was awarded a No. 4 seed in the South Region -- where Memphis is the No. 1 seed -- and will face No. 13 Oral Roberts (24-8), the Summit League champion, Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. The time isn't expected to be announced until Monday.

This is the first meeting between the two schools. On Saturday, the winner faces either fifth-seeded Michigan State (25-8), which lost to eventual Big Ten winner Wisconsin, or No. 12 Temple (21-12), the surprise Atlantic 10 champ.

"A couple of guys predicted that we were going to be a four or five seed, so I guess it's pretty good for us to be a four,'' Sam Young said. "If we were in D.C., a lot of my friends and family would have been able to come out to watch me play. After the last game, I found out that they were having a part of the tournament in D.C., so I definitely wanted it to be there. But, what can you do?

"But I like our bracket. If we can get to the Sweet Sixteen, there's a chance for us to play against a real good team in Memphis. But it's going to be a tough bracket for us to get there. We've been talking about this Sweet Sixteen thing for the past couple of years, so this definitely is going to be a big test for us.''

Pitt, Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan State, Kansas, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky and Gonzaga have now made it to seven straight NCAA Tournaments. Florida, Southern Illinois and Illinois had their consecutive NCAA appearances snapped after six straight trips.

"We're excited about the opportunity ... just to be invited to the NCAA Tournament,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's a great accomplishment, just to be invited, and we understand that very few teams in the country have been to the tournament seven straight years. So, we're very proud of that.

"(But) we've got to get ready for Oral Roberts now. No matter where you're seeded and where you play, you have to take care of business in that first game. So, we're just focusing on Oral Roberts right now, and we need to work on flights to get out there as soon as possible this week.''

Pitt is expected to leave either Monday night or early Tuesday for Denver to face Oral Roberts. And for those who are unaware about the rich basketball history at the Tulsa, Okla.-based school founded by Christian evangelist Oral Roberts in 1963 with an enrollment at 5,109, Coach Scott Sutton and the Golden Eagles are making a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, and fifth overall for the program.

Sutton, the Summit League coach of the year, has guided Oral Roberts to three straight league titles. His father is basketball coaching legend Eddie Sutton, who came out of retirement to coach at San Francisco and also led the Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State programs. His brother is current Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton.

"I heard of them before, that's for sure, and I know that the coach is the brother of the coach at Oklahoma State,'' Pitt junior point guard Levance Fields said. "But I don't know a lot of specifics about them. Coach Dixon said they have some good guards, but we look forward to that. I look forward to that.

"It was very special for the older guys to win the Big East title, especially after we lost in the championship game the past two years. So, it was great to get another chance to bring one home and finally get it done. That makes it much sweeter for us, but now we're looking forward to Oral Roberts and the NCAAs.''

The Golden Eagles are led by 5-foot-11 junior guard Robert Jarvis with 16.2 points per game. He also goes to the free-throw line a lot and shoots 85 percent from there. Jarvis has made 81 shots from 3-point range (40.9 percent). No. 2 scorer Moses Ehambe, a 6-6 senior forward, averages 11.7 points per game. He has made 82 treys (40.2 percent).

Seniors Adam Liberty and Shawn King, a 6-2 guard and 6-10 center, respectively, average 9.7 points per game each. King also leads with 6.6 rebounds per game, while 6-8 junior forward Marcus Lewis tallies 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest.

An NCAA-best eight Big East teams made the 65-team tournament field. Along with four-seeded Pitt, No. 2 Georgetown, No. 3 Louisville, No. 4 Connecticut, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 6 Marquette, No. 7 West Virginia and No. 12 Villanova.

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