Larry Ness' 10* LEGEND Play (2-0 in March!): Larry is a MONEY-MAKING 22-9 (71%) with his 10* "featured" totals in TY's CBB & for the 1st time all season, releases a total as one of his "signature" LEGEND Plays! Larry's LEGEND Plays were previously reserved for only his private clients but now they are on the net. He's 2-0 with LEGEND Plays in March. Want in on winner No. 3?
Game: Pittsburgh at Butler Mar 21 2012 8:00PM
Grade: Winner (100)
Reason: My 10* LEGEND Play is on Pitt/Butler Over at 8:00 ET.
Pitt, a perennially top-25 team which opened this year as the AP’s No. 10 team in its preseason poll, has not had a typical season. The Panthers ‘limped’ into the Big East tourney with a 5-13 conference mark. Pitt opened the season 11-1 but a home loss to Wagner on Dec 23 plus an injury to PG Woodall (11.5-6.2 APG) sent the team spiraling off course. Woodall missed 11 of 12 games from Dec 3 through Jan 16 and Pitt lost EIGHT consecutive games from Dec 23 through Jan 21. Woodall came back for the team’s Jan 21 loss vs Louisville but then helped the team get things turned around with four consecutive wins. However, that momentum didn’t last long, as Pitt ended its regular season’s schedule by losing SIX of seven games. The lone win came Feb 29 in an 89-69 home win over St John’s, in which Pitt shot a blistering 63.3. The Panthers drew St John’s in their Big East tourney opener and won 73-59 but lost their next game, 64-52 to Georgetown. The team's 17-16 record ended the school’s run of 10 consecutive NCAA appearances, marking the first time current head coach Jamie Dixon had not taken the Panthers to the Big Dance since arriving for the 2003-04 season. It would have been easy to make the case that the Panthers would be disinterested in playing in the CBI but so far, there is NO indication of that. In fact, one could argue that the Panthers are finding some solace in the CBI. “I'm not going to sit here and say it's what we wanted to be doing,” coach Jamie Dixon said of the tournament. "Our season was not what we wanted it to be. But these guys want to play. They've made it clear." Gibbs (15.3) joins Woodall in the backcourt, along with Patterson (9.4-5.1-3.4). Starting up front are the 6-5 Robinson (10.9-6.8) and the 6-9 Taylor (6.2-5.2). Depth is provided by the 6-9 Zanna (5.7-5.3) and the 6-6 Moore (7.1-3.9) up front plus freshman guard Johnson (4.3) on the perimeter. Pitt’s taken no prisoners in beating Wofford and Princeton easily, as Woodall has averaged 15.5 PPG and 10.0 APG. Gibbs has averaged 11.0 PPG and Robinson 9.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG. After two home games, Pitt takes to the road and of all teams, the Panthers draw Butler, the team which eliminated them 71-70 from last year’s NCAA tourney (more on that, in a bit). Butler’s been to each of the last two NCAA national championship games, so an appearance in TY’s CBI is clearly a step down in class. However, Brad Stevens did not turn this program into what it has become, by NOT being able to get his team to focus. The Bulldogs ‘caught fire’ late in the season, taking a five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS) into their regular season finale at Valpo. However, the Crusaders stopped Butler’s winning streak with a 71-59 victory, canning 26 FTs to Butler’s 13! Butler had to play in the Horizon’s opening round and won 70-52 at home over Wright St and then beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Valpo’s home court. However, a rematch with Valpo in the Horizon semis, didn’t go Butler’s way, as the Bulldogs’ loss ended their NCAA hopes. Butler opened TY’s CBI with an impressive 75-58 win over Delaware at home and the won a t Penn Monday night, 63-53. The Bulldogs are led by the 6-11 Smith (10.7-5.1) and the 6-7 Marshall (9.5-4.2). The team's perimeter group is deep, with Hopkins (9.1) scoring the most, joined by Nored (7.9-4.3-5.2), freshman Jones (7.9-65.9) and Stigall (5.3) rounding out the main contributors. Another freshman, the 6-9 Woods (4.3-4.9), has also gotten better as the year’s gone on. Hopkins has been the big scorer in the team's two CBI wins, averaging 17.0 PPG. Nored has been consistent with 12 points in each game while the 6-11 Smith scored 17 points with seven rebounds in his first game but then got only 4 & 3 against Penn. Freshman Jones had disappeared the team’s last two games (a total of just two points), after averaging 11.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG over his previous 11, but ‘came alive’ at Penn with 12 points (he’s the team’s best athlete). Unfortunately for the CBI, the tourney would have loved this matchup to be its championship series (best two of three) but will settle for this semifinal game. When these teams met last year in the NCAAs, I played the contest ‘over 125,’ cashing easily in the 71-70 final! Pitt lost in spite of shooting 56.5% from the floor, as Butler made 12-of-17 threes (to Pitt’s 6-of-11). Pitt has had two outstanding offensive games, scoring 81 points on 55.0% (14-of-25 threes) vs Wofford (allows 63.2 PPG) and 82 vs Princeton, shooting 52.3% (9-of-20 threes), which allows 62.5 PPG. This year’s Butler team is nowhere near at the talent-level as last year’s team, as the Bulldogs are minus Howard (16.4-7.7) and Mack (16.0), not to mention Vanzant (8.1) and Hahn (4.9). However, one can’t deny the success of Brad Stevens, who has gone 11-4 in the last four NCAA tourneys (championship game appearances in each of the last two years) and is now 2-0 in TY’s CBI tourney. Pitt will have some “extra-motivation” for this one and with the team “hitting on all cylinders” coming in (81.5 PPG the last two games), expect this contest to be played in a similar fashion to last year's Sweet 16 game. Go O-V-E-R!