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College Basketball Pick
Once again, the Big East is going to be one of the top conferences in college basketball this season. Neither Pittsburgh nor Georgetown were ranked at the beginning of the season, but after 12-1 and 10-1 starts respectively, that changed, before conference play at least.
Both teams are still looking for that first Big East win and even though it's still early in the season, a win right here against a similar opponent could prove to be important later down the road.
The Panthers have yet to get a win that can affirm their status of being a viable team come tournament time. Their first two losses were respectable, close games to Michigan and Cincinnati. However, a loss to Rutgers, a team that lost by 25 points to Syracuse was not expected, even on the road. Other than that, their best win was probably a 25-point thrashing of Lehigh. Pitt may have one of the most balanced teams out there with none of their players averaging more than 30 minutes, but 10 of them with at least 10 minutes per game. That is unheard playing in a big six conference.
Talib Zanna who only averaged 6.3 points per game last year currently leads the team with 13.1 PPG this season. The junior has been key down low for the Panthers, also averaging close to six boards per game. The Hoyas have a really lanky team that tend to have trouble with guys that can control the paint area, so Zanna will be huge in this game. In the backcourt, senior Tray Woodall carries the team and runs the offense. He's averaging 5.8 assists per game and is currently averaging 1.4 less turnovers per game than he did in the 2011-12 season. When adding that number up, it's a pretty large sum. Freshman center Steven Adams will likely get more and more time as the season goes on. His play has picked up as of late and even then, he's already the top rebounder on the team.
Georgetown has also been a nice surprise coming out of the Big East. Even after the loss of big man facilitator Henry Sims, they have been able to pull out wins, although not very pretty ones. They beat Tennessee 37-36 and Towson 46-40. One of their nicer wins came against UCLA in what happened to be Shabazz Muhammad's debut. An overtime loss to Indiana and most recently a one-point loss at Marquette are nothing to be ashamed of.
Without Sims, the trio of Otto Porter Jr., Greg Whittington and Markel Starks have picked up their games this season. Porter and Whittington work the glass down low (both average 7.5 rebounds per game), but can also hit the three-ball. As mentioned earlier, the length of this team in their zone defense is what causes problems and those two are at the center of it. On the outside, Starks is only a junior, yet is still one of the older players on the team. His best games this year have come against the toughest of competition which just shows his leadership. Starks finished with 23 points against UCLA, 20 vs. Indiana and in their first true road game of the season, went for 18 points and seven assists at Marquette.
Our model likes Pitt to pull the upset here predicting a straight up win for the Panthers, 56-53. The model performs very well when picking dogs to win straight up, though we typically look to grab a few more points than +2 with those dogs. We'll side with the model here though and may be able to grab a better number later today. Pitt +2
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