We are now only nine days away from Selection Sunday, and two weeks away from the second day of the NCAA Tournament. During times like these, it’s good to get in the right mood/mindset, and thanks to Pittsburgh Panther Ashton Gibbs, and his game-winning exploits against a pesky Providence Friars ball club, we have just the thing to get in a March Madness kind-of mood.
While most of the sports blogosphere is focusing on the talented blind girl playing the cowbell at the Boise State/TCU letdown bowl game, it was Gilbert Brown’s filthy baseline dunk over any Cincinnati Bearcat that dared oppose him that stole play of the night for me. Yes, the College of Charleston upset of North Carolina is more memorable, but road wins in the Big East conference come at a premium, and for the Panthers of Pittsburgh to travel to Ohio and come away with a 74-71 win after playing in a tough environment is every bit as impressive.
It may not be as sexy as seeing North Carolina get upset, but odds are, Pitt’s win will be considered more valuable when it comes time to seeding the NCAA Tournament in March. Which brings up back to a full circle situation, because it was Brown’s play that helped seal the win for Jamie Dixon’s squad. After sitting out the first 11 games due to an academic suspension, Brown has returned to the lineup, and against the Bearcats, he played his best game since the suspension ended.
Brown finished with 17 big points, 13 of which came in the second half. Oh, and a dunk that might go down as one of the best in Big East conference play this season. There’s video of the dunk; unfortunately, however, it was filmed with one of those new Droid phones, so the resolution isn’t the best. Nevertheless, you’ll get the idea:
And with that, it’s pretty safe to say conference basketball is upon us. Enjoy the grind leading up to March Madness, because it will get here quicker than you expect.
During all the 3-pointers, dunks, comebacks, and choke jobs that go with the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, it was revealed that basketball can also qualify as a contact sport — especially when open-court picks are being set. Just ask Venoy Overton of Washington and Levance Fields of Pittsburgh. Both guards were absolutely blasted while chasing their defensive assignments. In the case of Overton, if one of his teammates had yelled “pick,” his collision might have been avoided:
As for Pitt’s Fields, I don’t think there’s much he could’ve done to avoid the cross-body block thrown at him, courtesy of Oklahoma State:
Over at The Dagger, MJD calls the Fields blast the pick of the tournament; although, I think Overton might have an argument against said designation.
My only question concerning the Overton pick is why doesn’t the Mississippi State player receive a foul call for following through with his elbow? That’s not the legal way to set a pick and I doubt any tournament referee worth his salt (or paycheck) would miss such an unnecessary (and illegal) elbow extension.
Quick, who is the leading scorer for the number one team in college basketball? If you said Tyler Hansbrough for North Carolina, you’d be wrong on both fronts. First, the Tar Heels are no longer the number one team in the country, and second, Hansbrough does not play for the Pitt Panthers. If you answered Sam Young of the Pittsburgh Panthers, you’d be correct because not only does Young play for the Panthers, Pitt is also the top-ranked team in the country, thanks to Carolina’s loss to Boston College yesterday.
While a road loss to a strong conference foe isn’t necessarily an “upset,” the rankings of the two teams help justify this description. With that, ESPN kicked off Big Monday in style with the Georgetown/Pittsburgh match-up which was a road-trip for the Hoyas, something that’s never an easy task in the Big East.
By the time the clock clicked down to zeros, the 15th-ranked Panthers of Pitt handed 6th-ranked Georgetown their first loss in Big East play by the score of 69-60.
In order to beat the Hoyas, Pitt had to do so shorthanded because of injuries to starters Levance Fields and Mike Cook. Led by Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin–both with 18 points–the Panthers used a strong, 42-point second half to overcome Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Georgetown Hoyas.
The most telling statistic from the game was Pitt outrebounding the Hoyas 37-33, even though they faced a significant height disadvantage. Following the tenacity of freshman DeJuan Blair, who outplayed the taller Hibbert in the paint and posted 15 points and 9 rebounds. Hibbert, who stands at 7-2, had a seven-inch height advantage over Blair, but it was Blair who got the upper hand.
The Hoyas didn’t help themselves from the perimeter either by going 3-20. As it stands, the win pushes Pitt’s record to 15-2 overall and a 3-1 start to their Big East campaign. The Hoyas finished the day 13-2 and also stands at 3-1 in the Big East. Video for the ESPN wrap-up appears below: