Pitt and West Virginia will square off on ESPN's Big Monday in another basketball version of the Backyard Brawl.
The Panthers are virtually in survival mode, still clinging to dim hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament. Those hopes have been kept alive with wins last week over Providence and No. 10 Georgetown to move Pitt out of the Big East's basement. Pitt is still nowhere near the bubble for the NCAA's but the team looks significantly better with Tray Woodall now back and healthy.
Other than Woodall, Pitt will need to get production out of its frontcourt as they did against Georgetown. In Saturday's game with the Hoyas, the Panthers' frontcourt played perhaps its best game of the season. Forwards Nasir Robinson and Lamar Patterson combined for 41 points and missed only two shots all game. Forward/center Talib Zanna, who also started, added eight points and a team-high ten rebounds. It's probably not realistic to expect that much production from the three, but if they can contribute anywhere close to that, Pitt should have a shot to win the game.
West Virginia is coming into the game on a two-game slide, having lost road games to St. John's and Syracuse. The game against the Orange was particularly frustrating since the Mountaineers were robbed in the game's final minute when they didn't get a goaltending call that should have tied the contest. They'll no doubt still be furious about the game and will be looking to take it out on their rival.
For the Mountaineers, it's all about Kevin Jones, who is looking like the conference's best player. Jones averages just under 21 points and more than 11 rebounds per game and is a serious candidate for first-team NCAA All-American honors. Pitt can't hope to take Jones completely out of the equation, but if they can force him into some bad shots, they'll have done well. One thing they probably can't rely on is getting him into foul trouble, since Jones has only had more than two fouls all season.