Men’s Basketball: Big East opponents announced

By Tony Jovenitti

The Panthers are expected to field another tough team next season, but they will also play a… The Panthers are expected to field another tough team next season, but they will also play a tough schedule.

The Big East match-ups were announced today, and the three conference foes Pitt will play twice are South Florida, West Virginia and Villanova.

Big East teams play all 15 other teams at least once, and three opponents twice, both home and away. Pitt and West Virginia play twice every season because of the Backyard Brawl rivalry. This year West Virginia is coming off a Final Four appearance.

Villanova is expected to join Pitt in the top 10 of the preseason rankings. In Rivals.com’s early season rankings, Pitt is No. 4 and Villanova is No. 6.

In addition to those three teams, Pitt will host Cincinnati, Connecticut, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Syracuse at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers will travel to DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Providence, Rutgers and St. John’s.

The dates for these conference games are not determined yet, but Pitt has released several dates for its non-conference games.

The Panthers will take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic by hosting two games at the Petersen Events Center. Rhode Island will visit on Nov. 8 and Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 10. Pitt will then travel to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18 and 19 against two of the following three teams: Maryland, Texas or Illinois. Both Texas and Maryland made NCAA Tournament Appearances last season.

Pitt will also play Tennessee in the DIRECTV SEC/Big East Invitational at the new Consol Energy Center on Dec. 11. The Volunteers are coming off an Elite Eight appearance.

But the Pitt-Tennessee game is not expected to be the first ever college basketball game at the new Downtown arena. According to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review interview with head coach Jamie Dixon, the City Game between Pitt and Duquesne is likely to take place in early December. Last year the Dukes took the Panthers to triple overtime in Pitt’s victory in the final college basketball game at Mellon Arena.

Right now, the only Big East competition which has a known date is the Big East tournament on March 8-12 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The past two years, Pitt received a double-bye in the tournament but fell in its first game in the quarterfinals.

The coaches have proposed eliminating the double-byes and making all 16 teams play in the first round, which would take place over two days. This would mean seeds 1-4 play seeds 13-16 on March 8, while seeds 5-8 play seeds 9-12 on March 9, then the quarterfinals will be on March 10. The decision will be made in the coming months.

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