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2012 NIT Season Tipoff: Pitt vs. Delaware

After a close loss on Wednesday night against the Michigan Wolverines, the Panthers will take on the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens on Friday. The Panthers would surely rather be playing in the final against Kansas State, but after coming up just short in their game against No. 4 ranked Michigan, Pitt will try to bring home a third place finish.

Pitt shouldn't sleep on the Blue Hens. Delaware nearly beat a quality Kansas State team on Wednesday before falling 66-63. If the Panthers don't show up to play and take the Blue Hens lightly, it could result in a loss.

The perfect example of that nearly happened in Pitt's recent game against Oakland. The Panthers came out flat and only pulled out a win with a furious rally late in the second half and in overtime.

One of the Delaware players to watch is Devon Saddler. Saddler leads the team in scoring, averaging 20 points per game, and is second in rebounding with five per contest. But the big question mark will be senior forward Jamelle Hagins. Hagins is the team's leading rebounder with 13 per game and also averages ten points. But he went down with cramps in the Kansas State game and, while he returned briefly, he wasn't the same. If Hagins is back, he could be a matchup nightmare for true freshman Steven Adams, who has struggled a bit.

It's early in the season, but this game should tell us a lot about the Panthers. A strong performance in a bounce-back game would be a significant step forward.

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