Pitt and Duquesne are gearing up for the 2011 version of the City Game on Wednesday night.
The Panthers have won the past ten City Games, but there have been some close battles along the way. And with Pitt struggling a bit early on, this game is hardly a 'gimme' for the favored Panthers.
Pitt enters the game with things not running as smoothly as they'd like. The team already has suffered a loss this year at the hands of Long Beach State and have had close wins against La Salle and Rider. Over the past two games, they've also been without starting small forward Lamar Patterson due to disciplinary reasons and starting center Dante Taylor, who's been out with migranes. Both are expected to return on Wednesday, though it's not clear how much each will play.
The Panthers have looked a bit better in their past two games - a 20-point win against Penn on the road and a 10-point win against Robert Morris - a game that they led by more than 20 in the second half. Still, there's cause for concern in this one against a solid Duquesne team.
The Dukes are 4-2 and in their biggest game of the year, a season-opener against No. 16 Arizona on the road, looked extremely impressive. Duquesne trailed by only one with about six minutes left in the game before the Wildcats pulled away. But in that game, the Dukes proved they're capable of playing well against top competition.
To win, Pitt will have to deal with Duquesne's excellent quartet of leading scorer Sean Johnson (15.6 ppg), B.J. Monteiro, Eric Evans, and local star T.J. McConnell. The Dukes may have trouble with Pitt's size and they haven't rebounded well this season. Duquesne's top rebounder? The 6-foot-1 McConnell, who averages five per game.
The Dukes' best hope to pull off the upset may be to get out and run and try to outscore the Panthers.