The Panthers lead the historic series 47-31, and have dominated in recent history winning 28 out of 31, including the past nine contests. The Dukes were considered to be more highly regarded than Pittsburgh back when the series began, but things have changed.
The 79th addition of the “City Game” features the first regular season basketball game at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh (7-0) has played five of their seven games at home to start off the year. Their only two games outside of Pennsylvania have been in Madison Square Garden at the 2K Sports Classic/Coaches vs. Cancer tournament where they defeated Maryland and Texas.
Duquesne (3-1) has lost to Robert Morris 69-63, a team that Pittsburgh beat last week 74-53.
Senior guard/forward Bill Clark leads the way for the Dukes scoring 17.8 points per game. Clark also grabs 7 rebounds a contest. He is followed by B.J. Monteiro who scores 14.5 ppg. Damian Saunders needs to provide rebounds and an inside presence if the Dukes have a shot at winning. The size differential between the two teams will easily be a problem for the Dukes tonight.
Pittsburgh survived the double overtime affair last season against Duquesne. They were down by double-digits to start the second half, but kept fighting and chipping away at the lead. Duquesne never gave up the lead until deep in the second half. Clark had a monster game scoring 23 points and pulling down 9 rebounds.
Pittsburgh had four players in double digits. Ashton Gibbs led the way with 15 points, Brad Wanamaker scored 14 and Nasir Robinson and Gary McGhee scored 11, respectively. Eight players scored for the Panthers. Expect that number to be nine or ten tonight.
The Panthers are not a team that will blow you away with their athleticism or talent, but they do what most teams wish they could do, win. They lock you down on defense and grind out victories. It might not be the prettiest basketball, but it gets the job done. That is one of the reasons why Jamie Dixon’s team has never reached a final four. They are not a team that will blow many teams out, which cause closer games, which cause fluke shots or plays by teams that are generally not supposed to win. Some examples are Bradley, Pacific, Kent State, Marquette, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these sides are all solid, but Pittsburgh was favored in all of these games. Hopefully, this year is different because of the talent that Pittsburgh has. This is arguably the most talented team that Pittsburgh has ever had.
My prediction for this game is easy, Pittsburgh by double-digits. They are the deepest team in America. That doesn’t mean they are the most talented, but it does help when players aren’t having good performances. It allows guys like J.J. Moore and Travon Woodall to get a chance to shine. The guy that has an outstanding performance can be different night in and night out. Against Rhode Island it was Wanamaker, against Maryland it was Talib Zanna and against Texas it was Gibbs.
Zanna and McGhee will dominate the glass down low. Wanamaker should be able to have a solid game scoring and dishing the basketball. He also will be able to grab rebounds because the lack of size for the Dukes. Gibbs will do what he does best, score the basketball.
About the Author
Written by Justin Welton
Born in Franklin, PA. Life-long Pittsburgh sports fan + Boston Celtics. Attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Working for WCUC - 91.7 and WCUB-TV. Clarion Call writer for two years.