Pitt Goes To Garden As No. 2 Seed
Levance Fields drives Pitt to another title.
Levance Fields drives Pitt to another title.
Senior Writer
Posted Mar 8, 2009


The Pitt men's basketball team leaves Tuesday for its home away from home, Madison Square Garden in New York City, as the No. 2 seed in the Big East Conference Tournament.

Pittsburgh (28-3, 15-3) received a two-day bye and won't play until Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Panthers will play either seventh-seeded West Virginia, No. 10 Notre Dame or No. 15 Rutgers. The Fighting Irish and Scarlet Knights play Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the winner plays WVU Wednesday night at 7.

The winner of that game plays Pitt in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to a Friday matchup at the same time. The championship game is Saturday night at 9. The quarterfinals, semifinals and title game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

"We've accomplished a lot so far, but we have more to accomplish down the road,'' Pitt senior forward Tyrell Biggs said. "So, we're just looking forward to that and going to our second home, Madison Square Garden.''

Pitt is on a 10-1 streak since its loss against Villanova in Philadelphia with the lone defeat at Providence. The Panthers' three losses, the other against Louisville, were all on the road this season. Pitt's 15 Big East wins marked a school-record seventh straight season with at least 10 Conference victories. The Panthers also have had at least 20 regular-season wins for seven straight seasons as well, the only Big East school to accomplish both feats in that time.

Pitt has appeared in seven of the last eight Big East Tournament final games and three straight with four consecutive victories last year to capture the championship crown. The Panthers also appeared in four consecutive title games from 2000-04. Last year, Pitt became the second team in Big East history to capture the tournament title with four consecutive wins. No. 7-seeded Pitt defeated No. 1-seeded Georgetown 74-65 to claim the title.

Pitt was the No. 1 seed three times, 1988, 2002 and 2004, and this is the third time it was the second seed (1987 and 2000). The Panthers' title-game appearances were 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Only one school in Big East history has matched that run. Syracuse had 7 of 8 from 1986-93. Pitt dropped its first game after receiving a first-round bye in 2005.

Pitt, Connecticut and Syracuse are the only schools with two Big East Tournament championships since 2000-01. The Panthers seniors -- Biggs, Sam Young and Levance Fields -- have a chance to appear in four straight title games. Should they succeed, they would become just the second senior class in school history to achieve that record as the 2004 senior class (Jaron Brown, Toree Morris and Julius Page) advanced to four title games.

Pitt has won 19 of its last 25 Big East Championship games dating back to the 1999-00 season. The 19 wins rank as the most victories during that time period: Pitt-19, Syracuse-11, Georgetown-10, Connecticut-9, Villanova-8. Overall, though, the Panthers are just 25-24 in Big East Tournament games.

In 27 years since joining the Big East Conference, Pitt has won the title twice (2003 and 2008) and advanced to the title game seven times (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008). It defeated UConn, 74-56, in 2003 and Georgetown, 74-65, last year. Pitt has advanced to the last three title games.

The Panthers are 23-8 at Madison Square Garden since the 2001-02 season, including regular-season games, and there are three players on the roster and a staff member from the New York City area: Fields (Brooklyn), Biggs (Nanuet), Travon Woodall (Brooklyn) and Video Coordinator Rasheen Davis (Bronx).

Here is the Big East Tournament schedule:

Tuesday, March 10 – First Round (BIGEAST.tv)

No. 9 Cincinnati vs. No. 16 DePaul, Noon

No. 12 Georgetown vs. No. 13 St. John’s, 2 p.m.

No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Rutgers, 7 p.m.

No. 11 Seton Hall vs. No. 14 USF, 9 p.m.

Wednesday, March 11 – Second Round (ESPN)

No. 8 Providence vs. Cincinnati/DePaul winner, Noon

No. 5 Marquette vs. Georgetown/St. John’s winner, 2 p.m.

No. 7 West Virginia vs. Notre Dame/Rutgers winner, 7 p.m.

No. 6 Syracuse vs.. Seton Hall/USF winner, 9 p.m.

Thursday, March 12 – Quarterfinals (ESPN)

No. 1 Louisville vs. 8/9/16 winner, Noon

No. 4 Villanova vs. 5/12/13 winner, 2 p.m.

No. 2 Pittsburgh vs. 7/10/15 winner, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Connecticut vs. 6/11/14 winner, 9 p.m.

Friday, March 13 – Semifinals (ESPN)

Thursday afternoon winners, 7 p.m.

Thursday evening winners, 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 14 – Championship (ESPN)

Semifinal winners 9 p.m.


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