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Pitt-Penn State: Yeah, And?

By Paul Zeise 4 years ago

Pitt will play Penn State Tuesday at the Petersen Events Center in an ACC=Big Ten Challenge game.

It used to be Pitt-Penn State in anything got people riled up no matter what the sport but to be honest, this is just another game. In fact, the athletic department issued a note today that tickets for the game still remained, which is amazing.

But that is the anatomy of how to kill a rivalry -- join different conferences, don't play each other for more than a decade in football and stop playing in basketball and eventually the fans will stop caring.

I hear people say that in 2016 when the two schools meet again in football it will be like old times but I don't buy that. This young generation of fans has no reference point for the rivalry, they, unlike us, didn't grow up with it, didn't grow up with classic games and families split down the middle and rooting against each other one day per year.

Also, Penn State and Pitt rarely recruit against each other any more, so there isn't this element of familiarity among the teams.

The funny thing is talking to a couple of Pitt's players, the ACC-Big Ten part of it is more compelling than the Pitt-Penn State part of it.

Regardless, the Nittany Lions are much better than they were in 2005 when these two teams last played and Pitt won 91-54. That was a run of five wins by Pitt in this series by an average of 25.8 points per game and at that point, Ed DeChellis (who was the coach) decided to end the series because it had become so lopsided.

But this team has a great set of guards D.J. Newbill (19.5 ppg) and Tim Frazier (18.5 ppg) who are a tough matchup. Those two score but they also rebound, dish assists, get steals - just two guys who fill up the stat sheet.

Pitt will have its hands full with the Nittany Lions, there is no doubt, and I think this may be the best team they have played other than Stanford, although that really isn't saying much.

Penn State is 6-2 with losses to Bucknell and Mississippi and they have a nice win over St. John's in overtime.

In one other note - Lamar Patterson not surprisingly was named the ACC player of the week after averaging 21.7 ppg in leading the Panthers to wins over Texas Tech, Stanford and Duquesne.

And in case you are wondering - yes, the ACC leads the ACC-Big Ten challenge 10-3-1, the Big Ten is 3-0-1 in the last four so the ACC has some work to do in order to regain the title. Last year, the challenge was tied 6-6.

In terms of individual teams - the only three that have double-digits in wins in this series are Duke (12-2), Maryland (10-4) and believe it or not, Wake Forest (10-3). No Big Ten team has a winning record in the series though Illinois (7-7), Purdue (6-6) and Ohio State (6-6) are all .500 in these games.

Here is the entire schedule:

Tues Dec. 3

7:15 PM #4 Syracuse at Indiana, Carrier Dome • Syracuse, NY ESPN - - -

7:15 PM Illinois at Georgia Tech, Hank McCamish Pavilion • Atlanta, GA ESPN2 - - -

7:30 PM Penn State at Pitt, Petersen Events Center • Pittsburgh, PA ESPNU - - -

9:15 PM #22 Michigan at #10 Duke, Cameron Indoor Stadium • Durham, NC ESPN - - -

9:15 PM Notre Dame at #23 Iowa, Carver-Hawkeye Arena • Iowa City, IA ESPN2 - - -

9:30 PM Florida State at Minnesota, Williams Arena • Minneapolis, MN ESPNU - - -

Wed., Dec. 4

7:00 PM Maryland #5 at Ohio State, Value City Arena • Columbus, OH ESPN - - -

7:00 PM #8 Wisconsin at Virginia #8, John Paul Jones Arena • Charlottesville, VA ESPN2 - - -

7:30 PM Northwestern at NC State, PNC Arena • Raleigh, NC ESPNU - - -

9:00 PM North Carolina at #1 Michigan State, Breslin Student Events Center • East Lansing, MI ESPN - - -

9:30 PM Boston College at Purdue Mackey Arena • West Lafayette, IN ESPN2 - - -

9:30 PM Miami at Nebraska, Pinnacle Bank Arena • Lincoln, NE

To be honest, looking at the schedule, I think this could end up a 6-6 tie again and I'll be interested in seeing how some of these games end up because some of these teams haven't yet been tested.

The Duke-Michigan is obviously the highlight game but UNC-Michigan State could be interesting and if you like a clash of 1950s basketball, I suppose Virginia-Wisconsin could be interesting as well.