Connecticut at Pittsburgh
Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun knew going into this season that he had a team still wet behind the ears and scheduled accordingly. This led to false hope in the belief that the team was still good enough to compete in the upper echelons of college basketball. In the last five games the baby Huskies has proven just what young pups they really are.
The first Big East game and incidentally the first road game of the season for UConn was predictably a failure as the Huskies were controlled by West Virginia, 81-71. South Florida only placed a band-aid on what was a real sore. Both Marquette and LSU proved this team was too young to compete, not close in terms of chemistry and lacked the mental constitution to hang in under difficult circumstances. If the 2007 Webster Dictionary were to come out today, the word - OVERVALUED Ė would feature a Connecticut team picture.
The Big East conference may not be a brutish as last season, nonetheless a giant is emerging that was expected in Pittsburgh. This Panthers club might have the one element that has prevented numerous other fine Pittsburgh teams from making it to the Final Four and that is scoring options. For years Pitt basketball dating back to Paul Evans as coach and continued by Ben Howland and now Jamie Dixon always produced very strong defensive teams that could grind down the opposing teams. However, lack of reliable scorers always manifested itself at the most inopportune times the Panthers were jettison from the post-season many thought before their time.
This season center Aaron Gray is receiving the lionís share of attention with consistent scoring and rebounding. Mike Cook, Antonio Graves and Ron Ramon all are capable of scoring in the backcourt, with each having the ability to help balance one another on an off night. The sleeper in all this is Levon Kendall, who doesnít force shots, allows Pitt to play high-low with Gray because of his passing skills.
After bettors got a look at the early line they probably could not believe their good fortune and did a double take with Pitt only a six and a half point home favorite on the overnight line. This has been pushed up quickly as of this morning to 7.5-points at Sportsbook.com. Itís easy to acknowledge the Huskies have been one team that has given Pittsburgh problems over the years winning 10 of 14 in this Big East series. In virtually all those match-ups, Pitt was the plow horse to UConnís thoroughbred.
The Panthers are not a sure thing despite obvious edges. Pittsburgh is 1-8 against the spread in home games after playing 3 consecutive games as favorite. By now Jim Calhoun has had time to coach up this youthful squad and sell them on the merits of being an underdog and how Connecticut has owned the Panthers in recent times. The Huskies have barked with authority as a road dog in covering 10 of 14 contests against teams with winning records.
We believe with veteran leadership like that of Gray, this is wonderful time to undo history to take it to Connecticut before enthusiastic home crowd. Pitt is 15-5 against the spread after a game giving up 5 or less offensive rebounds and would be suggested play at eight or fewer points. This line could well go higher, thus taking a gander at the Live Betting Odds page would be an intelligent thing to do. ESPN2 has the Big East battle starting at 7 Eastern.
About the Author: Bob is an experienced sports writer and handicapper who has written for the sports industry for over a decade. He has been a regular contributer to Sports Scene, a sports consultant for television's 33 Made and other major motion pictures.