Pitt heads on the road to face DePaul on Saturday. Coincidentally, the Panthers go from playing to what had been considered by many to be the best Big East team in Syracuse to potentially the worst in the Blue Demons. A letdown from the team's big win against Syracuse might be the only thing that can stop the Panthers from bringing home a win.
This game contrasts two teams headed in decidedly different directions. Pitt is 18-1, undefeated in conference play, possibly the best team in the Big East, and fighting for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. DePaul, meanwhile, is 6-12, winless in conference play, quite possibly the worst team in the league, and has little chance of reaching even the NIT, let alone the NCAAs.
DePaul doesn't have many stars, but one player Pitt will need to keep an eye on is freshman Cleveland Melvin. Melvin averages nearly 15 points a game and has scored at least 20 in six of DePaul's last seven games. Over that stretch, he's had some extraordinary games for a rookie in the nation's toughest conference, including a 29-point game against Georgetown on the road and a 25-point game against UConn. This past week, he was named the conference's top rookie for the third time in the past four weeks.
The Blue Demons should be wary of Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs. Gibbs is only 11 points shy of becoming the 38th Pitt player with 1,000 career points. He will probably come out firing and look to get past the milestone as quickly as possible.
The Panthers cannot afford to relax in this game as no conference foe offers the guarantee of a win. DePaul has struggled in-conference this season but nearly beat West Virginia at home. But if Pitt plays even a solid game, the team should remain undefeated in the Big East.