Short Lived

New York,N.Y. - Pittsburgh's second stay atop the AP poll will be shorter than its first. The Panthers hope that's the extent of their worries.

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Looking to avoid another late-season letdown in Big East play, No. 1 Pittsburgh looks to rebound from its latest loss while trying for a third straight victory over host Seton Hall on Saturday night.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Pittsburgh -10 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Seton Hall. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 57% of more than 243 bets for this game have been placed on the Pittsburgh -10

One day after ascending to the top of the poll for the second time this season, the Panthers (25-3, 12-3) were upset 81-73 at Providence on Tuesday. The result snapped Pitt's seven-game winning streak and was its first loss to an unranked team since a 76-62 defeat at West Virginia on March 3.

Pitt was the nation's top-ranked team for two weeks before losing 69-63 at then-No. 20 Louisville on Jan. 17.

Though its latest loss was disappointing, it likely hasn't hindered Pitt's quest to earn the school's first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Tied for third in the Big East, the Panthers need to finish no worse than fourth in the league standings to earn one of four double byes in the conference tournament, then have a decent showing at Madison Square Garden.

Pitt can make things easier on itself with a strong regular-season finish - something it's been unable to do in recent seasons.

Despite winning at least 20 regular-season games for the fourth straight time, Pitt lost four of its last seven in 2007-08. The Panthers dropped two of their final three in 2006-07, three of four in 2005-06 and three of five in 2004-05.

"We're going to have to bounce back, or we're not going to reach our goals," said Pitt forward DeJuan Blair, who had 17 points against Providence before fouling out.

Pitt's final week won't be easy. Seton Hall (15-12, 6-9) still has its sights set on a possible postseason tournament bid and the only loss in its last five home games was a 62-54 defeat to then-No. 1 Connecticut. The Panthers then finish with homes games against No. 8 Marquette and second-ranked UConn, the current conference leader.

"We don't get too high after wins or too low after a loss," said Panthers guard Levance Fields, held to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting over the last two games. "We've shown that we've bounced back after losses and even after big wins, we don't let down."

Pitt can do so by avoiding another slow start. The Panthers trailed by 18 at halftime Tuesday and ended up allowing their highest point total of the season. They let the Friars shoot 49.1 percent after entering the game holding opponents to 40.5 percent.

"We've got high standards, and we didn't live up to them," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said.

Pitt rolled to an 84-70 home win over Seton Hall on Jan. 12, 2008, in the teams' only meeting last season. The Panthers also withstood a tough challenge from the Pirates in a 71-68 victory on Feb. 19, 2007, to avoid a third straight road loss to Seton Hall.

Sam Young had 28 points while Blair added 20 and 14 rebounds against the Pirates last season. Blair is averaging 19.7 points and 16.3 rebounds in his last three games overall.

The Panthers held then-Pirates freshman Jeremy Hazell scoreless last season. Currently second in the Big East averaging 22.6 points, Hazell went 0-for-8 from the field while trying to overcome foul trouble against Pitt.

Hazell had 20 points in Seton Hall's 75-60 home win over South Florida on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Pirates beat then-No. 12 Georgetown 65-60 on Jan. 25 for their only victory in seven games this season against ranked Big East opponents. They also lost 89-85 in overtime to then-No. 18 Villanova at home on Jan. 6.

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Posted: 2/28/09 2:30AM ET


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