Pitt expects to have a much easier time with the University of Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday than it did in its opener against Rhode Island.
UIC is, to put it bluntly, not a very good team. The Flames were 8-22 last season and an abysmal 1-15 on the road. Its only road win was a two-point victory over Evansville. UIC has, however, had some recent success - in the past five seasons, the team has recorded wins over Butler, Georgia Tech (twice), Northern Iowa, DePaul, Davidson, and other BCS-conference teams such as Northwestern, Oregon State, and Mississippi.
UIC also returns its top two scorers from last season in guards Robo Krebs and Zavion Neely. Both players combined to average more than 27 points per game. The Flames also have a new head coach in former Wisconsin Badgers player and assistant coach Howard Moore. Moore has taken to implementing Wisconsin's system:
Because Moore imported Wisconsin’s swing offense and hard-nosed man-to-man defense not to mention Bo Ryan’s son, Matt, as his director of basketball operations the crash course began in the video room.
"The first week he was here, we got three DVDs of Wisconsin," said sophomore forward Anthony Kelley from Aurora Central. "Wisconsin in a single game playing against Milwaukee. Then they had a breakdown of the swing and another breakdown of the swing.
Like Pitt, UIC has stressed defense under coach Moore. But unlike Pitt, the team was one of the worst rebounding programs in all of college basketball last season, finishing 327th in rebounding margin. Pitt's starting big men Gary McGhee and Talib Zanna should have a field day on the boards.
Pitt had its hands full with Rhode Island, which is an A-10 team and was an NIT semifinalist last season. But this game should be significantly easier. This is also UIC's first game and, as Pitt did in its opener on Monday, will likely show some signs of rust. I expect a big Pitt win.