Big Lead Sports Bar



Within the span of a few hours, what looked like a promising night of Pittsburgh sports viewing turned sour. Very sour.

First, the Pitt Panthers became the latest team to get upset in the Big East Tournament, with a disappointing 50-45 loss to Notre Dame at the Garden. All of a sudden, the team that used to dominate this tournament is suddenly one-and-done the past two seasons, having dropped a 74-60 decision as the #2 seed last year to #7 West Virginia.

Notre Dame led almost the entire game on Thursday night, aided by a 12-4 run to start things off. Pitt would close the gap to one several times in the second half, but could never get over the hump.

As is usually the case in a game with 95 total points, it wasn't the most exciting brand of basketball to watch. Pitt had only two players reach double figures: Brad Wanamaker (16) and Jermaine Dixon (10). Gilbert Brown pulled his usual every-other-game disappearing act, with three points on 1-of-5 shooting, Ashton Gibbs was nearly silent with just four points on four shots, and Gary McGhee was shut out altogether.

Once again, the Panthers were outshot by the Irish, who held the edge in shooting percentage from the floor (53%-39%) and from beyond the arc (46%-20%). Notre Dame also had just two players in double figures on the night, those being Ben Hansbrough and Luke Harangody, who scored 12 points each. And by the way, the number of TV shots of Harangody's family was roughly the same as the volume of ads for "She's Out of My League" - a lot.

So Pitt will get considerable time off before the Big Dance, while Notre Dame will fight to see another day in the BET. The Irish will take on the winner of WVU-Cincy, with Marquette and Georgetown meeting in the other semifinal.

As for the Pens, they were busy blowing an early 2-0 lead in Raleigh, NC to the Carolina Hurricanes, eventually losing 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Brian Pothier - his first since joining the Canes via Washington. This was the first loss in five games since the Olympic break for the Penguins. Scorching hot Carolina is now 13-3-1 in their past 17.

Jordan Staal and Bill Guerin scored quickly in the first period for the Penguins, but Carolina would have the game knotted at two just five minutes later, following goals by Ray Whitney and Zach Boychuk. The teams traded goals in the second, with Eric Staal and Matt Cooke each lighting the lamp for their respective teams. That would be the end of scoring until Pothier's goal just 23 seconds into OT.

Brent Johnson got the start in goal for Pittsburgh and stopped just 17 of the 21 shots he faced. On the other end, Justin Peters was peppered with 40 shots from the Pens, stopping 37 of them and grabbing the game's top star honors.

The Pens now hit the road for four straight games, with the next home contest coming on March 20, a rematch with the Canes. The menu for the upcoming week includes roadies at New Jersey on Friday, Tampa on Sunday, Jersey again on Wednesday, and the Matt Cooke Reunion with Boston on Thursday.

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MJ said...

But WVU won...

MJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Zigarovich said...

What Notre Dame did tonight was a joke. College basketball needs to adopt a 24 second clock to keep this from happening.

JW said...

I thought they were going to bring out peach baskets for the second half.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Notre Dame's style was lousy but Pitt had plenty of opportunities to take the game. It almost seemed like they had no urgency in their game whatsoever. There were so many times where I felt that they could have changed the tempo of the game, but they chose not to turn up the pace.

The Big East tournament itself needs some adjusting, though. They reward the top 4 seeds with the double bye, but they don't re-seed. I think it has got to be one or the other because if they don't re-seed, the double bye is a disadvantage. Syracuse was the #1 overall seed yet they drew Georgetown whereas WVU was the 3 seed and got to play the lowest seed remaining. That's crazy.

NickDawg said...

what a lousy game to watch. ND is just a matchup nightmare for Pitt. Lets hope they dont see a similar team like that in the first round of the ncaa's.

JW said...

I think the tourney should go back to only letting in 12 teams--that makes the regular season a little more important even for the bottom-level teams.

I don't like the idea being thrown around about having it be a 4-day tourney for everyone (1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc.) Whether they like it or not, the rest leading up to the NCAA tourney is important for the top teams, and it should be special--not a requirement--for a team to be able to win the Big East by playing 4 games in 4 days.

Unknown said...

Why didn't they put the ball in Gibbs' hands late in the game?? Even if he didn't have a wide open look, I'd rather take the risk with Ashton's jumpshot than the garbage that Wannamaker (who I like) was throwing up.

If Notre Dame does really well going forward with that style, it will ruin the tournament.

Big East tourney has to get rid of the double byes. It has proved to be an obvious disadvantage.
I say go back to 12 teams. Even the Atlantic 10 doesn't invite all of their teams.