3/28/2009 01:01:00 PM
7:05 p.m., 28 March 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Line: Pitt -2
Villanova clashes with a very familiar opponent today in Boston for a Final Four berth.
The top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers have won 31 games, and were ranked #4 in the country in the last AP poll. But Villanova beat Pitt last time, and that was before the Wildcats began to look like a top-5 team during their recent tournament run.
There's not much to write about this game that hasn't already been said. Villanova and Pittsburgh are both tough, defense-oriented teams with penchants for physical play.
Unlike its last three games against American, UCLA, and Duke, Villanova will probably be at a disadvantage on the interior tonight, facing Big East player of the year Dejuan Blair.
The Wildcats will have to make up for Pitt's edge down low by using their superior scoring guards and athletic running game. A key player tonight will be Dwayne Anderson, and his ability to score whether or not his three-point shot is falling.
Corey Fisher will need to get to the rim, even if Blair is patrolling the key. Scottie Reynolds will need to bear some of the Wildcat scoring load. Dante Cunningham will have probably the toughest task of all, containing Blair on one end and scoring on the other.
Pittsburgh is a tall order and a legitimate top-5 team nationwide, but the Wildcats are arguably the hottest team in the NCAA tournament. While the Panthers have largely struggled their way to the Elite 8, Villanova has absolutely demolished its last two opponents, with slaughters of ranked UCLA and Duke.
KenPom predicts a 2-point victory for the Panthers, giving Villanova a 40 percent chance for the win.
Oddsmakers installed Pitt as a 2.5 favorite on Friday, but the line has dropped to 2 points as of Saturday afternoon.
Check out the other Villanova blogs linked at right for their previews, and then try to predict the game's final score in the comment thread below.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of North Carolina and Oklahoma in Detroit's national semifinal next Saturday.