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Pitt Vs. Maryland: Panthers And Terrapins Battle In Madison Square Garden

Pitt and Maryland, both off to 3-0 starts, will face each other in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The game should be a good test for both teams ... although it's not as if they haven't had any difficult games yet.

Pitt's challenge came in an opening night eight-point win over Rhode Island. The Rams played Pitt tough throughout the game and Pitt needed to pull away late to win. Maryland had an even bigger scare, winning by only one against the Charleston Cougars after hitting a jump shot with three seconds left.

Surprisingly, both games were actually the openers for each team in the 2K Sports Classic. Regardless of the outcomes, Pitt and Maryland were still scheduled to play each other at Madison Square Garden. But a little bit of the luster would have likely been removed had one or both teams lost.

The key to the game could be in the paint. Maryland PF/C Jordan Williams averages more than 20 points per game and 10 rebounds per game and was named the ACC Player of the Week last week. Williams goes about 260 pounds and Pitt could have trouble containing him, even with some size of its own with Gary McGhee, Talib Zanna, Dante Taylor, and J.J. Richardson. Williams will probably get his points, but Pitt needs to win the rebounding battle and limit Maryland's shots.

Both teams are in the top 25 in scoring in the nation, but that's likely a product of the competition. This game could be more of a defensive struggle, though Pitt has a little more firepower than some of its past teams.

It's still not known if Nasir Robinson will play or not. But Pitt's deep frontcourt makes it a little easier to cope without him.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Illinois and Texas.

For more pregame material, check out the preview over at Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.