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Providence Vs. Pitt: Can Panthers Begin Ascent Out Of Big East Basement?

Pitt, still winless in Big East play (0-7), hopes to climb out of the conference basement starting with a win against Providence on Wednesday.

The Panthers have played better lately, competing well against ranked Syracuse, Marquette, and Louisville teams. But the team hasn't been victorious in any of the three contests, and while Providence sits near the bottom of the Big East, a win is far from a guarantee.

The Friars have been surprisingly competitive against Pitt in recent years. The Panthers have won the last two games by a combined six points and freshly anointed as the No. 1 team in the nation in 2009, Pitt lost to Providence. For whatever reason, the Panthers have found it tough to beat the Friars lately.

This year, Providence has been somewhat of an anomaly. The team has been competitive at times and flat out ugly in some losses. The Friars own a blowout win against Louisville and have hung with Marquette, and Georgetown - three of the Big East's top teams. But they've also been beaten soundly twice by Syracuse, crushed by more than 20 against St. John's, and dropped early contests to Northern Iowa and Iowa State.

For Providence, it all starts with floor general Vincent Council. Council ranks No. 12 in the Big East in scoring with 16.2 points per game, and his 7.1 assists are second in the conference. Tray Woodall, who will be playing in only his second game back from groin and ab injuries, will need to find a way to disrupt his game, which not only involves scoring, but getting the ball teammates and running the offense.

One thing that's kept Pitt in games recently is their rebounding. But they may not see the same results in challenging Providence on the glass. The Friars rank No. 29 in the NCAA in rebounding, hauling in nearly 40 per game. While the Panthers are slightly better, coming in at No. 25, the two teams are virtually even in that category.

For more on Pitt basketball and the game, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.

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