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College Basketball Pick
Pittsburgh doesn't have any superstars, but they don't need any, they haven't needed any, at least. Nothing was expected from the Panthers this season and they quietly proved the preseason critics wrong with a 12-1 start to the season. They didn't get off to a great start in Big East play, but their latest 7-1 run has people talking. Marquette's last great win was at Pitt back on Jan. 12. Since, they haven't really done much to surprise anyone and that leaves them with the No. 18 ranking.
The jury is still out on Pitt as they are as high as 30th in the RPI, but as low as 11th in BPI. The Golden Eagles are near the 20 mark in most rankings.
Let's look at the Panthers recent run of games. They are coming off a nice road win at Cincinnati and a home win over Syracuse. Their only loss in the past month was at Louisville and that was by three points. More wins include over Connecticut and a dominating win at Villanova. Basically, they've been on the top of their game.
Marquette only has three conference losses and those all came on the road: OT in Cincy, Louisville and on Monday at Georgetown. The last time these teams played, the result was not a surprise. It went to overtime with the Golden Eagles taking the edge in Pittsburgh. Can the Panthers return the favor in Milwaukee? It's not out of reach, but Marquette hasn't lost at home all season.
In that previous matchup, the one thing Pitt had going for them was Lamar Patterson who went 6-for-7 from long range. That probably won't happen again since he hasn't had more than two threes in any other conference game. Scoring will have to come from other areas and that's exactly what they can do. No one on the Panthers averages more than 28 minutes or 11 points per game. That's as balanced as you can get. Senior guard Tray Woodall is the leader of this team, though. Without him, Pittsburgh would probably be an afterthought in postseason play. He's not an amazing scorer, but is pretty consistent at hitting his usual mark around 10 points and five assists per game. It should be noted that Woodall only played four minutes in the last Marquette meeting because he had to leave early due to a head injury.
With Woodall back for the entire game, the Panthers outlook is much better. Big man Steven Adams can also be a factor. He's scoring consistently and averaging close to 10 rebounds per game in the past month.
Much like with Woodall, Vander Blue runs Marquette. He leads the team in scoring with close to 15 per game and is often the only player getting 30 minutes in a game. Blue couldn't get much going in their last game against Georgetown (seven points) and his team faltered, that's no coincidence. His supporting cast is mediocre at best, but they stack up evenly alongside Pitt. Davante Gardner, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett combined for just 11 points at Georgetown on Monday. The three average 28 points per game as a trio. Marquette's big man Chris Otule will be matched up with Steven Adams and neither has a true advantage. Otule is probably stronger, but he's surprisingly not great on the glass. Otule has been better offensively as of late which should help.
There isn't much that separates these teams and that will show in the line for this game. Marquette hasn't lost at home this year, but Pittsburgh has been playing really well on the road.
Predicted Score - Pitt 63 Marquette 54
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