There's no way Pitt's taking this game lightly, right? Right?!
I don't think so. The City Game has gone Pitt's way the last ten times, but there have been close ones along the way.
Two years ago, Duquesne took Pitt to to overtimes. In 2007, the Dukes had No. 9 Pitt on the ropes before losing by five. And in 2005, Duquesne had Pitt's second-half lead to single digits before losing by 11.
And with the team's play this year, if they're not taking this game seriously, that's a serious problem. According to oddsmakers, Pitt enters as only a light favorite.
Pitt comes in (from what I've seen, anyway), as only a six-point favorite.
Duquesne almost certainly thinks about the two games in 2007 and 2009 when they nearly pulled off a huge upset:
"The thing that's hurt us the last two times when we had the game in position to win it is we didn't execute in the offensive end," Everhart said. "At the Civic Arena, we didn't get a shot late in the game, dropped the ball out of bounds. An unforced error . The same thing happened to us here (in '07) -- we had a walking violation with no one near us. Our guard play is going to have to be really solid, especially in late-game situations. "
Now, I won't go as far as say that I wish Pitt would drop some of these games to Duquesne once in a while, but if the series were a bit more competitive, we'd look forward to it that much more. I've written before about how great the atmosphere can be and imagine how great it would be if both teams were national powers.
The two teams are friendly with each other with the two campuses being so close. Plus, they often run into each other in the Greentree Summer League. But on Wednesday, that all goes out the window:
"We’re friends with those guys but when we get on the court, it’s different," Pitt forward Nasir Robinson said. "It means a lot to them and it means a lot to us."
Pitt should be a bit deeper tonight with Lamar Patterson set to return from a two-game suspension and Dante Taylor expected to come back after missing the past two games with migranes. But the team actually played better in their absence, so who knows just how much time they'll both get. Regardless, expect to see a heavy dose of Khem Birch and J.J. Moore.
I do expect Pitt to win this game, but a loss certainly isn't entirely out of the picture. Pitt needs to slow the tempo down a bit and take advantage of their rebounding as Greg wrote earlier.