Seton Hall-Pittsburgh Preview

Seton Hall-Pittsburgh Preview

Another home victory over a top 10 opponent helped propel Pittsburgh back into the AP poll.

The No. 23 Panthers hope to avoid a letdown while trying to continue their home dominance of struggling Seton Hall in Monday night's Big East matchup.

After falling 64-61 at No. 11 Louisville last Monday, Pitt (18-5, 6-4) bounced back with a 65-55 win over then-No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday. The Panthers shot 48.0 percent, owned a 39-24 rebounding advantage and held the undermanned Orange to 36.7 percent from the field to win for the fifth time in six games. They improved to 13-1 against top 10 foes since the Petersen Events Center opened a decade ago.

"They're the best team we've played, without any question," Syracuse coach Boeheim said. "It's not even close."

Pitt started 12-1 and spent the last two weeks of December ranked 24th, but lost three of its first four Big East games before recently turning things around. The Panthers have limited their last six opponents to an average of 57.0 points on 38.5 percent shooting, including 28.6 from 3-point range.

They also lead the Big East allowing 27.5 rebounds per contest.

Senior Tray Woodall was the only Panther in double figures with 13 points against Syracuse, but his nine teammates who played each scored.

"This team is unique," coach Jamie Dixon said. "I think the strength is in playing 10 guys. That's not normal but that's what works for us."

That depth could come in handy for a quick turnaround against a Seton Hall team that has lost three in a row and seven of eight.

"We have to focus on Seton Hall," Dixon said. "We have to come out and play with the same aggressiveness (as Saturday)."

Though Pitt lost its last two road games versus Seton Hall (13-9, 2-7), including 73-66 in the teams' only meeting of 2011-12, they've won nine of 11 at home in the series. The Pirates have shot 36.9 percent while losing the last three at Pittsburgh by an average of 20.0 points.

Cincinnati's 29-5 run that covered both halves ultimately led to Seton Hall's 65-59 home loss to the No. 17 Bearcats on Saturday.

"We have to finish the first half strong, then come out strong," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. "I have to say we're not getting it right now. We have a major issue with that."

That might not be Seton Hall's only problem.

The Pirates have averaged 60.3 points and 16.1 turnovers in the last eight games. Their opponents are scoring 69.9 per contest during that stretch.

"We have to dig deep and find some way somehow to get a win and turn this around," said guard Brandon Mobley, who matched Fuquan Edwin with a team-high 16 points Saturday. "We have a great chunk of our season left. We have to do something to keep this from happening."

Edwin averages a team-leading 16.6 points but has totaled 10 on 5-of-13 shooting in two games versus Pitt.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.