Tuesday night in CBB will see the Pittsburgh Panthers travel to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 pm tipoff and will be televised live on ESPN 2. Currently Pittsburgh is favored by 1 point with the total being set at 135 for this game. The Big East Conference slate begins tonight in South Bend for both the 22nd-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers and the hometown Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as the rivals square off at the Joyce Center.
Free Analysis: Pitt (11-2) didn't face a ranked team during its non-conference slate but was far from impressive. Besides five of their wins coming by 10 points or less, the Panthers were stunned at home by two inferior programs. They had a string of 58 consecutive home victories over non-conference opponents snapped with an 86-76 defeat to Long Beach State on Nov. 16. On Friday, they were handed a 59-54 loss to a Wagner team which hadn't beaten a Top 25 opponent in 33 years. Pittsburgh, has been hampered by injuries and continues to play without point guard Travon Woodall. The 5-foot-11 junior, who was averaging 14.1 points and 8.3 assists before suffering groin and abdominal injuries, is all but certain to miss his seventh consecutive game. Woodall's absence seems to have taken a toll on Big East preseason player of the year Ashton Gibbs, who had 14 points Friday and was 1 for 7 from 3-point range. The Panthers have been inconsistent on offense of late without Woodall, as they have averaged 76.1 ppg on 49.3% shooting overall, but in their last three games they have put up just 66.3 ppg on 46.5% shooting (all without Woodall).The Panther defense has not been inconsistent as hey have allowed just 64.8 ppg on 43.6% shooting this year, including allowing just 59.8 ppg on 39% shooting in their last 5 games. Notre Dame (8-5) lost its best player, Tim Abromaitis, at the very beginning of the season, and several players have been asked to step up in his absence, so the Irish have had seven different players contribute and lead an injury-riddled team in scoring at least once this season, with sophomore guards Eric Atkins (13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Jerian Grant (12.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) the most consistent contributors. The Fighting Irish are generating 72.7 ppg while limiting opponents to 65.2 ppg on 41.5 percent field goal efficiency. Notre Dame has won its last three games against Pittsburgh to take a 29-27 lead in the series, but Pitt has never lost 4 in a row in this series and Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon owns a 41-11 career record in games immediately following a loss. The Irish have been outscored by average of 20.0 points in three meetings with Top 25 teams this season - all away from home. However, they've taken six straight versus ranked opponents at Purcell Pavilion.
Free Pick: Gonna go with the Under here. The Last 3 times these teams have played, Notre Dame spread the court, used then entire shot clock and as a result they won all three games and those games produced an average of just 101 ppg being scored. With Timmy gone for the season the Irish will really struggle to score vs good defensive teams and Pitt certainly qualifies. With a lack of scoring punch I fully expect Mike Brey to use that offense in this one. It has really worked for them. The Pitt offense has been struggling of late as they have averaged just 66.3 ppg in their last 3 games, but their defense has been solid of late as they have allowed 59.5 ppg on 39% shooting in their last 5 games, while they have allowed 57 ppg on 42.7% shooting on the road this year. ND has allowed 65 ppg overall this year, but just 59.8 ppg on 38.8% shooting at home. Im not sure this will be a game with just 101 points scored, but with both defense's playing well and with an expected slow down game from Mike Brey, I just don't see more than 120 points here. KEY TRENDS--- NOTRE DAME is 19-8 UNDER after 5 straight games committing 14 or less turnovers over the last 3 seasons, while PITTSBURGH is 10-1 UNDER off an upset loss as a home favorite since 1997.