Men’s Basketball: Pitt set to face Wofford in College Basketball Invitational

By Lauren Kirschman

Three years ago, the Pitt men’s basketball team narrowly defeated Wofford in the 2009-2010… Three years ago, the Pitt men’s basketball team narrowly defeated Wofford in the 2009-2010 season opener.

The Panthers — just beginning to adjust to playing without Levance Fields, Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Tyrell Biggs — struggled to come away with the 63-60 victory. But Pitt eventually found its stride, not only in the game, but for the rest of the season. The Panthers finished 25-9 and tied for second in the Big East standings with a 13-5 record, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But while several players remain from that team, three very important members have departed: Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee. This year’s team never seemed to find its way without them.

As a result, Pitt (17-16, 5-13 Big East) will face off against Wofford (19-13, 12-6 Southern Conference) at the Petersen Events Center once again — this time in the College Basketball Invitational, a minor postseason tournament among 16 teams that weren’t selected for the NCAA Tournament or the National Invitation Tournament.

Tipoff for the game is set for 7 p.m. tonight.

Wofford went to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011. This year, the Terriers finished the season tied for second in the Southern Conference behind NCAA Tournament qualifier Davidson.

Wofford allows 62.7 points per game as the conference’s best defensive team. However, the Terriers were also the Southern Conference’s worst offensive team with 64 points per game. The only Ratings Percentage Index top 50 team Wofford played, Wisconsin, defeated the Terriers 69-33.

The RPI ranks teams based on their winning percentage, their opponents’ winning percentage and their opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.

The Terriers feature a talented backcourt filled with three double-figure scorers.

Senior guards Kevin Giltner and Brad Loesing lead the team, both with 14.9 points per game. Freshman guard Karl Cochran also averages double figures with 11.2 points per game. Loesing and Giltner both played the last time that Pitt and Wofford met. Loesing played 27 minutes, scored 13 points and dished out for assists. Giltner didn’t score in 16 minutes of playing time.

Giltner and Loesing were both named All-Southern Conference this season.

Now in its fifth year, the CBI is a three-round tournament that consists of the first round and the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals in which the teams are reseeded. The final round is a best-of-three series that will be held on March 26, 28 and 30 if necessary.

Every game of the CBI is played on one of the participating teams’ campuses. The right side of the CBI bracket features Butler vs. Delaware, Penn vs. Quinnipiac, Princeton vs. Evansville and Wofford vs. Pittsburgh. The left side of the bracket has Milwaukee vs. TCU, Western Illinois vs. Oregon State, Washington State vs. San Francisco and North Dakota State vs. Wyoming.

If the Panthers win, they’ll face the winner Princeton and Evansville.

Pitt hasn’t been completely healthy as a team for most of this season, and that trend will continue tomorrow. Senior forward Nasir Robinson did not practice on Monday due to swelling in his knee, and redshirt Durand Johnson is hurt and not practicing. Starting point guard Tray Woodall is not yet at 100 percent due to the abdominal and groin injuries he suffered early this season.

While Pitt sophomore J.J. Moore said Monday that the Panthers want to end the season with a win for the seniors, the CBI will be most beneficial for the Panther underclassmen who can work on improving for next year.