College Basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgetown - Georgetown Favored

Team Page: Pittsburgh :: Georgetown

63% of Bets Placed on Georgetown -7 | Matchup | CBB Picks
In the era of tournaments, rankings and RPIs, there's still something to be said for a good old fashioned first-place finish in the regular season, especially in a bloated conference like the Big East.

Not sure about that? Just ask No. 10 Pittsburgh and No. 12 Georgetown, who meet Saturday in a game that likely will determine the regular-season champion.

Oddsmakers have made Georgetown -7 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for todays game, the over/under has

been set at 121.5 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books).

``A 16-game period, that's really a reflection of the best team,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. ``Whereas we all know the tournaments can come down to a one-game thing. You see the true colors over a 16-game season, more so.''

The Big East couldn't ask for a much better finish to February. The Panthers (24-4, 11-2) and Hoyas (21-5, 11-2) were supposed to be the class of the conference, and they've lived up to the billing by peaking at the right time. Georgetown has won 10 straight; Pittsburgh has won 14 of 16.

In addition, Pitt and Georgetown both played well in their first meeting. The Hoyas shot 60.9 percent; the Panthers shot 59.6 percent. The teams combined for 38 assists, and eight players scored in double figures as Pitt held on for a 74-69 win on Jan. 13.

``It would be big bragging rights, to be No. 1,'' Georgetown center Roy Hibbert said. ``That's our ultimate goal, so it's going to be an interesting game on Saturday.''

Two things would make the rematch even better. First, if it was being played one week later - at the end of the regular season. As it is, the winner will still have a chance to stumble out of first. Pitt finishes up with West Virginia and Marquette, while Georgetown will have to fend off Syracuse and Connecticut.

Secondly, the Panthers won't be at full strength. Seven-foot center Aaron Gray is expected to miss his second game with a sprained left ankle, denying fans another chance to see him tussle in the paint with the 7-foot-2 Hibbert.

``It's swollen, it's very discolored, and it doesn't look good,'' Dixon said. ``You wouldn't want to be walking around on it if it was yours.''

Gray averages 14.5 points and is the only Big East player averaging double figures in rebounding (10). He had 11 points and four rebounds in the first meeting with the Hoyas, but Levon Kendall compensated for Gray's absence with 14 points and eight rebounds in a three-point win over Seton Hall on Monday.

``We won't have the 7-footer, but we still want to get the ball inside,'' point guard Levance Fields said. ``Guys are going to have to give a little bit more. Everybody's going to have to come together to make up for Aaron not being here.''

First place in a conference offers some bragging rights and prestige, but more often these days it's simply seen as a means to an end. It means the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, where the official conference champion is crowned. It means a more favorable look from the NCAA when the seeds are dished out for the big tournament.

But when Georgetown coach John Thompson III was coaching Princeton, it meant even more. The Ivy League doesn't have a tournament, so the regular-season winner also was the conference champion.

With the Hoyas, Thompson's focus on a game for first place hasn't changed - if Thursday's meeting with reporters is any indication. The coach was so distracted by his preparations for practice that he had to ask reporters to repeat questions because he wasn't paying full attention. He kept an eye on his players warming up on the court and interrupted the session several times to handle one matter or another.

``I think everyone's goal in every conference is to win the conference,'' Thompson said. ``Is that a goal? Yes.''

by: Marc Young - - Email Us

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