Typically when Pitt has faced Penn State in basketball, there hasn't been much reason for worry. The Panthers have easily had the best program over the past 20 years and the Nittany Lions haven't been real competitive in recent seasons.
Penn State actually holds the all-time lead in the series, 75-72, but Pitt has won the past seven contests making it pretty lopsided lately. You have to go all the way back to 2000 for the last Penn State win. And no, you shouldn't need me to point out that Penn State's basketball team, not its football team, owns the most recent win over Pitt.
It was announced on Monday that the two teams will meet again this year as part of the Legends Classic at The Barclays. We've known for a while that Pitt and Penn State would join Texas A&M and Oklahoma State for the mini-tournament but we didn't know the pairings until today. All four teams will play some preliminary games before heading to The Barclays.
The game will be on Monday, November 20th. The bad news? It was relegated to ESPN3. That's even more insulting given that the first game, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, will be on ESPN2 earlier that evening. I haven't bothered to look to see whatever else ESPN2 is programming that night but, overall, it's kind of amusing that they're asking fans to tune in and make it a big deal and then make one of the semifinals only available online.
You might remember a similar scenario actually played out last year for the Never Forget Classic between the two teams. Pitt and Penn State were the second part of a doubleheader. Notre Dame and Villanova played first on CBS and Pitt-Penn State were then relegated to the not-online-but-a-lot-of-people-don't-get-it CBS Sports Network. I know, what are the odds, right?
The Pitt game will follow that first contest so it will probably tip off around 9:30 p.m.
Pitt is usually an easy pick against the Nittany Lions but, for the first time in a while, it will be much harder to call for a Panthers win. The Panthers turned over nearly the entire roster and while Penn State's basketball program is nothing special, they simply might have Pitt outgunned in this one.
Still, I'm ultimately glad to see the organizers put the two teams together. That game will have a lot of intrigue for fans of the rivalry. I've said it a million times before but I'd rather play Penn State in anything more than most other schools out there where no real rivalry exists.