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Pitt Basketball: Pitt Vs. Villanova In Regular Season Finale

Pitt and Nova will duke it out once again this weekend. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Pitt and Nova will duke it out once again this weekend. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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So, you know you're getting old when you don't feel like going out to a game on a weekend. I had an opportunity for tickets this weekend, but I legitimately wanted to stay in instead and take it easy this weekend. Last chance to see Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee, and Gilbert Brown? No thanks.

Yeah ... O-L-D.

At any rate, should be a good game this weekend and if I could magically transport myself to my seat without having to worry about driving down to the Pete, I'd probably bite. Pitt is undefeated all-time at the Pete against top five teams. While Nova isn't ranked that high, the point is that my motto is essentially that Pitt should win every game at home. I expect them to win this one, but it should be a good game.

Speaking of good games, Pitt is actually due to play one. Not that they've been awful, but as I wrote after Wednesday night's game, it would be nice to see them put together two good halves.

The game will be a little different in that each team will have two stars back that missed the first game - Ashton Gibbs and Corey Stokes. I expect that will help the Panthers more than it does Villanova.

It's easy to look at Pitt and Villanova as two teams headed in different directions, but both teams, surprisingly have struggled since their game against each other. In the 24 games before facing the Wildcats a few weeks ago, Pitt had only lost two games. In the five since? They've gone 3-2. while Villanova's gone 2-3.

Villanova hasn't been great lately, either. Since that game, they've been 2-3. But even though Villanova's been on a bit of a slide, coach Jay Wright doesn't think it's over for the Wildcats:

"I understand how it looks," Wright said. "I understand that I might take some hits because of that. But in the same way when we were doing well and everybody was saying how great we were, I knew that that wasn't true. I knew we were a couple incidents away from what we're going through right now.

"I hear [the criticism], but it doesn't bother me. It just makes me more committed to us trying to do things the way we do them."

Not that I would expect a coach to come close to admitting panic, but I do agree with Wright. Villanova is still a very good team and the grind of the Big East can easily get to be too much. I think once they get into the tournament, they could still give teams fits.

For added motivation, of course, is the chance Pitt has to become outright Big East champs:

"One win to be outright champs," senior center Gary McGhee said. "It's the last game for me, Gilbert and Brad at home. There's going to be a lot of energy in the building. We're just going to go out there and get the win and get the hats and T-shirts."

Outright Big East champs? Simply put, if Pitt and Notre Dame finish in a tie, the Irish should be the champs due to their head-to-head win. No questions asked.

Also up for grabs is a potential No. 1 seed ... though Nasir Robinson says that's not on their minds:

"We feel good," said Nasir Robinson, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds. "We're going to play this last game against 'Nova and we're not going to worry about the No. 1 seeds. We're going to play hard and, hopefully, things work out good."

As I heard on the radio this week, there's little difference between a No. 1 and No. 2 seed. But there's a larger difference between a No. 2 and No. 3. Even if Pitt loses to Nova and then got beat handily in its first conference tournament game, there's no way Pitt drops to a three seed. But I do think the attention from getting a No. 1 seed is great for a school, so it'd be nice to see them take care of business.

And just for good measure, the Philadelphia Inquireris breaking down Villanova's Big East seed scenarios.


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