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Pitt Vs. Notre Dame: Panthers Face Fighting Irish In Another Tough Matchup

After playing an early evening game on Saturday against DePaul, Pitt now faces a ranked Notre Dame team on Big Monday on ESPN.

There's never a break in the Big East. Notre Dame is pretty good proof of that. The Irish started 11-1 in the non-conference season. Since the Big East season began, they're 5-3. Lots of major conference teams experience a downturn when they reach conference play, but that is especially true when teams have weak non-conference schedules. The Irish, on the other hand, played a very challenging non-con, facing Kentucky, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgia (a surprising 14-4 this season), and Cal.

The Big East is enough to wear anybody down, though, and Notre Dame's seen some of that. After back-to-back road losses to Marquette and St. John's, the Irish have bounced back and won their past two games against Cincinnati and Marquette.

Notre Dame is led by five seniors, all contributing ten points or more per game. Guard Ben Hansbrough and forward Tim Abromaitis lead the way, combining for more than 30 points per game.

Both teams are led by upperclassmen and because of that, they play a clean game, as evidenced by their top-ten assist-to-turnover ratios (Pitt is second in the nation, and Notre Dame is ninth). The winner of this game could be the team that takes care of the ball the most, and if the Panthers can force some early turnovers to get the crowd involved, they would be off to a great start.

Pitt comes into this game as the hottest team in the Big East and are the only team to remain undefeated in conference play. The Irish have some weapons, but Pitt has some of its own. Playing at home, I would expect the Panthers to come out on top in this one, but an upset is not out of the question.

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