Pitt is new beast in Big East

Feb 4, 2003 8:34 AM

With the Super Bowl in the rear view mirror, the next big event on the sports stage is college basketball’s season-ending tournaments.

Since 1997, college basketball’s national champion has come from either the Pac 10 (Arizona), SEC (Kentucky), Big East (U Conn), Big 10 (Michigan State) or the ACC (Duke and Maryland the last two seasons). Let’s examine some of the top teams in each conference, starting this week with the Big East.

Pittsburgh: No one wants to play the ­­Panthers and Coach Ben Howland’s innovative defensive schemes. Defense often wins championships and Pitt hopes to kick in the door this season. The Panthers have been to the Big East title game in each of the past two seasons. Despite, losing both times, the depth and defense is there to make another run. The first six games where there was a posted total, Pitt went 5-1 UNDER and held an explosive Notre Dame bunch to 55 points.

Pitt has plenty of beef up front in 6-foot-8, 238-lb senior Donatas Zavackas, 6-7 Chevron Troutman and 6-6, 265-lb Ontario Lett. The Panthers lack height, but are not afraid to outmuscle opponents. The guard play carries much of the offense with Brandin Knight and Julius