USA TODAY Sports
Pitt's game Sunday against Villanova isn't going to determine if the Panthers get into the NCAAs. With ten Big East wins as well as some quality victories over Georgetown and Syracuse, Pitt should be in the tournament even if they go '0-fer' the rest of the way. The Panthers are playing for seeding, though, and a loss here could mean a No. 5 seed goes out the window.
Villanova, on the other hand, has a bit more to play for. They're a bubble team by the standards of most and while a loss may not mean they don't make the tournament, a win could go a long way in getting them in. As of Thursday, Joe Lunardi had them as one of his last four teams in.
When it comes to the Wildcats, though, the other thing to remember is that they've got to face Georgetown after Pitt. If they lose the Pitt game, the Georgetown one could be a must-have for Villanova barring a deep Big East run. Let's just say it's an important one for Nova.
Pitt won the first matchup largely because of their bench. The Panthers' reserves outscored Villanova's 31 to 8. Ironically, the eight points scored were from JayVaughn Pinkston ... now a starter. Pitt also had an advantage at the free throw line in that one, getting 12 more attempts. Both teams laid an egg shooting the ball, but the Panthers just wore down Nova.
Make no mistake about it - this one isn't a gimme for Pitt by any means. But if they're truly a top 20-25 team, they should be able to win this game at home. Villanova will be desperate, but Pitt's playing for quite a bit, too. In the home season finale, expect them to come out a bit excited. It's the last home game for Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor. Those guys should come out ready to play - and the good news is that both have been playing well lately.