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NCAA Tournament: Xavier vs. Pittsburgh Prediction: March 21st 2010

Xavier vs. Pittsburgh
Free Prediction: Xavier
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Pittsburgh had a very good season but I believe the Panthers are over-seeded. A 24-8 record coming out of the Big East Conference is very impressive as was the 8-1 finish to the regular season. Or was it? Of those final eight wins, only three came against NCAA Tournament teams and after a 5-0 start in the Big East, the Panthers went 8-5 the rest of the way which is definitely good but a big falloff if you ask me. The strong finish helped but going winless in the Big East Tournament did not. This is still a very young team and even though the Panthers looked great against Oakland, the situation is completely different here and they catch a less experienced team but one that matches up very well. Xavier lost a lot from last season but it put together another fantastic season. Seven of the eight losses were to NCAA Tournament teams and the other loss was to Dayton, a team that returned most of their lineup but faltered down the stretch. Non-Conference losses were to Marquette early in the year, Baylor two games later, Kansas St., a controversial loss at Butler and a double-overtime loss at Wake Forest. The Musketeers have the depth and athleticism to compete with almost any team in the country. Most importantly, they are extremely efficiency as they are ranked within the top 50 in Offensive points per possession, Defensive points per possession, effective FG%, defensive effective FG% and defensive rebounding as they play good defense, execute efficiently on offense and they rebound well. During the regular season, Xavier was 22-2 when it scored 70 or more points with its only two losses coming to Wake Forest and Temple. On the defensive end, 70 is a key number as well as games where it held the opposition under 70 points, the Musketeers went 16-2. Pittsburgh does not allow a lot of points but it does not score many either. This is also a revenge game of sorts for the Musketeers. The Panthers ousted them 60-55 in an East Regional semifinal in Boston last March and some Xavier players are eager to avenge last season’s Sweet 16 loss to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh loss, junior Dante Jackson said, is still “in our stomachs.” The lower seed is actually the underdog here and that has put the public behind the Panthers which is fine by us. 3* Xavier Musketeers

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