February 15, 2009

No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers at No. 1 Connecticut Huskies

NCAA Betting Preview
No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers (23-2) at Connecticut Huskies (24-1)
Monday, 7:00PM Eastern

Bookmaker.com betting line – Connecticut -3

The biggest game of the Big East Conference basketball season will likely take place on Monday night live from the Gampel Pavilion when the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies host the No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers. Connecticut not only holds the nations number 1 ranking, but also hold the top spot in the conference. However, the Panthers have won 5 straight games and they were the nation’s former number 1 earlier this season and they will make an attempt to take down the Huskies to get back on top of the Big East standings. The game will be the first of two meetings between these two regular season conference title hopefuls in the last month of the season.

Connecticut has been stellar in all aspects of the game this season. The offense is sound and the defense has been stellar. Not to mention the Huskies are one of the best teams in the land at grabbing rebounds. The Huskies are averaging 77 points per game this season and rank 3rd in the country averaging 42 rebounds per contest as well. However, possibly the most impressive statistic that Connecticut possesses is that they are the top ranked scoring defense in the conference and also a top 25 national scoring defense holding opponents to only 60 points per game. Amazingly, the Huskies have two outstanding players averaging double-doubles. Jeff Adrien leads the team in scoring average with 14 points per contest while averaging 10 rebounds as well. The 7’3” monster on the inside Hasheem Thabeet is a big threat in the paint averaging 13.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. Thabeet is also coming off a 25 points 20 rebound performance and could be a big impact on Monday night.

Pittsburgh has won 5 straight games since their last loss to Villanova back in late January. The Panthers are one of the better scoring teams in the conference and one of the better scoring teams in America nearly averaging 80 points per game. Pittsburgh has a strong inside team, but can be equally dangerous from the perimeter. The inside game will likely be the most watched battle as Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair goes against Hasheem Thabeet. Blair is averaging the nations 5th best individual total in rebounds with 12.3 boards per game and also contributes with 15 point per game as well. The leader of the team is senior forward Sam Young who is posting 18 points per game while adding 6 boards and the Panthers would love for the senior to come up with another big night. Pittsburgh definitely needs all their players to come up big in the rebounding category considering Connecticut has not been out rebounded in a single game this season.

What to watch for…
The inside battle will be the most interesting to watch with Thabeet and Blair with others colliding in the paint. However, while whoever wins that battle will make a big impact I believe the guard play will be equally important. Huskies’ A.J Price and Jerome Dyson will match-up against Levance Fields and Jermaine Dixon. The guards that can make some fast breaks and successful drives to the hole will likely establish the pace of the game for their team.

Pick – Pittsburgh +3

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