Pitt At The Big East Tournament

The bracket is set, and Pitt is seeded second for the Big East Tournament this week at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Pittsburgh (24-7, 13-5 Big East) has a two-day bye and opens play Thursday in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal matchup. No. 7 Notre Dame awaits the winner between No. 10 Seton Hall and No. 15 Providence Wednesday at 7 p.m. with the winner of that game facing Pitt. The contest will be nationally televised by ESPN.

Should Pitt win its quarterfinal game Thursday, it would advance to a semifinal matchup Friday at 9 p.m. The title game is Saturday night at 9 p.m. as well. Both of those games will be nationally televised by ESPN.

With Saturday's 83-54 win against Rutgers, Pitt earned the Big East's No. 2 seed. Three teams -- the Panthers, West Virginia and Villanova -- ended the regular season tied for second place with 13-5 records. Under the Big East Conference tiebreaker rule, the seeding order is decided by best record in a three-way mini-conference between the teams. Pitt went 2-1 against WVU and Nova, while the Mountaineers were 2-2 and Villanova was 1-2.

Pitt has been on a hot streak lately with eight wins in its last nine games. At 13-5, the Panthers finished with 10-plus Big East regular season wins for a school-record ninth straight season and reached the 20-win mark for a school-record ninth straight season. Pitt is the only Big East program to win both 20 overall and 10 Big East games in each of the last nine years even though the Panthers were picked to finish ninth by Big East coaches in their annual preseason poll.

Pitt, which ranks among the nation's top five in overall winning percentage (244-63) and has the Big East's best regular-season record (109-41) over the last nine years, will appear in its ninth straight NCAA Tournament when the brackets are released during the CBS Selection Show Sunday, March 14 at 6 p.m. on CBS.

Pitt has appeared in seven of the last nine Big East championship games and captured tournament titles in both 2003 and 2008. Pitt is 19-8 in Big East title games since 2000-01. Pitt also has a 24-10 record at Madison Square Garden since 2000-01.

PITT'S 2010 BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES

Pitt enters the Big East Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The No. 2 seed ranks among its all-time highest seeds upon entering the Big East Tournament. The Panthers entered the tourney as the No. 1 seed two different times (1988, 1-West in 2002 and 2004) and has now been a No. 2 seed three times (1987, 2-West in 2003 and now in 2010).

Pitt begins its quest for an eighth Big East title game appearance after winning 20-plus games for the 17th time in school history. The Panthers are the only Big East program to surpass both 20 overall wins and 10 Big East wins in each of the last nine seasons.

Pitt has appeared in seven of the last nine Big East title games (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008). Only one school in Big East history has matched that run: Syracuse (7 of 8 from 1986-93). It has appeared in three of the last four Big East finales (2006, 2007 and 2008) and appeared in four consecutive title games from 2001-04.

Pitt is one of three programs to capture two Big East Tournament titles since 2000-01. The Panthers, Connecticut and Syracuse all have two.

Pitt has won 19 of its last 27 Big East Championship games dating back to the 1999-00 season. The 19 wins rank as the most victories during that time period: Pitt-19, Syracuse-14, Georgetown-10, Connecticut-9, Villanova-9.

Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon enters his seventh Big East Championship with an 11-5 tournament record. In 2008, he guided Pitt to its second all-time Big East Tournament title and its seventh Big East title game appearance in school history.

In 28 years since joining the Big East Conference, Pitt has won the title two times (2003 and 2008) and advanced to the title game in seven tournaments (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008). It defeated UConn, 74-56, in the 2003 title game and Georgetown, 74-65, in 2008-09. Pitt has advanced to three of the last four title games.

Madison Square Garden is Pitt's home away from home. The Panthers are 24-10 at the venue since the 2001-02 season.

Pitt features three players and two staff members who are New York City area natives. The student-athletes include sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs (Scotch Plains, N.J.), freshman center Dante Taylor (Greenburgh, N.Y) and redshirt freshman point guard Travon Woodall (Brooklyn), along with assistant coach Brandin Knight (East Orange, N.J.) and video coordinator Rasheen Davis (Bronx).

2010 BIG EAST MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Tuesday – First Round

No. 9 South Florida vs. No. 16 DePaul, Noon, ESPN2

No. 12 Connecticut vs. No. 13 St. John's, 2 p.m., ESPN2

No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 15 Providence, 7 p.m., ESPN-U

No. 11 Cincinnati vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 9 p.m., ESPN-U

Wednesday – Second Round

No. 8 Georgetown vs. South Florida/DePaul winner, Noon, ESPN

No. 5 Marquette vs. Connecticut/St. John's, 2 p.m., ESPN

No. 7 Notre Dame vs. Seton Hall/Providence winner, 7 p.m., ESPN

No. 6 Louisville vs. Cincinnati/Rutgers winner, 9 p.m., ESPN

Thursday – Quarterfinals

No. 1 Syracuse vs. 8/9/16 winner, Noon, ESPN

No. 4 Villanova vs. 5/12/13 winner, 2 p.m., ESPN

No. 2 Pitt vs. 7/10/15 winner, 7 p.m., ESPN

No. 3 West Virginia vs. 6/11/14 winner, 9 p.m., ESPN

Friday – Semifinals

Thursday afternoon winners, 7 p.m., ESPN

Thursday evening winners, 9 p.m., ESPN

Saturday – Big East Championship

Semifinal winners 9 p.m., ESPN

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