Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: East Region Part 1

No. 1 seed Pittsburgh Panthers:

Why they will win it all: The Panthers are a veteran team with three senior starters and one of the best big men in the country in sophomore center Dejuan Blair. Pittsburgh has three primary offensive weapons in Blair, senior guard Levance Fields and senior forward Sam Young. Fields is the floor general and one of the better passers in college basketball. He averages almost eight assists per game to go along with his 10.7 points per game. Blair averages a double double with 15.7 points per game and 12.2 rebounds. He was named Co-Big East Player of the year with Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet. The Panthers are among the top teams in shooting percentage in the nation and can score both inside and outside. Pittsburgh is a very athletic team and plays a solid defensive game that relies on them forcing bad shots.

Why they won't win it all: The Panthers are not without their flaws though and they struggle in a couple of areas. Though Pittsburgh has a number of players who can hit the 3-ball they lack a consistent presence on the perimeter. As evidenced by their quarter-final loss to West Virginia in the Big East tournament, when they went 0 for 8 behind the arc. Another area of concern for the Panthers is their inability to shoot free throws. The Panthers shot just 67% from the charity stripe this season well below average. The last major area of concern for Pittsburgh is foul trouble. If either Blair or Young get in foul trouble the Panthers lack the front court depth to make up for their absence.

Player to watch: Sam Young. Most people would put Blair here but Sam Young is the best player on this team. Young can score from anywhere on the court and plays great defense. He led the Panthers in scoring each of the past two years. He is a very cerebral player who often out plays bigger and stronger opponents due to his advanced understanding of the game. Young has the skill and athleticism to present match-up problems against just about any player in the nation.

Prediction: Pittsburgh should be the East region's representative in the Final Four. While its a strong bracket top to bottom the Panthers match up well against every team. The biggest scare may come from Villinova who beat the Panthers in their only match-up during the season.

1st round upset: 9th seed Tennessee over 8th seed Oklahoma St.:
While not that big of an upset prediction the Volunteers should be able to get by the Cowboys with strong play from their junior forwards Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism.


  1. The Panthers are making me nervous by how they played in their first do you expect they will match up in their second game?

  2. I don't know I'd like to say it was a fluke. Pitt did shoot well overall especially from the free throw line. Where they failed was allowing so many offensive rebounds. They need to take away those 2nd chance shots.

    Ok State could be a tough matchup they are a real good shooting team. They are really quick and could give Pitt some trouble on the perimeter. Overall though I'm not too worried because the Cowboys lack the size to match up with the Panthers. They don't have anyone who can guard Blair. If i'm Jamie Dixon I go inside early and often, don't try to match them 3-pointer for 3-pointer. If you keep attacking with Blair and Young inside OK State will get into foul trouble.