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March Madness to descend on Pittsburgh next month

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Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

March Madness descends on downtown Pittsburgh next month with second and third round NCAA Tournament games played on March 15 and 17 at Consol Energy Center. Can another Coppin State Cinderella upset be far behind?

It's the first time the city has hosted NCAA man's tournament games since 2002. Duquesne is the host school.

In 2007, Pitt hosted first and second round NCAA women's tournament games at Petersen Events Center. Eventual national champion and No. 1 seed Tennessee, led by tournament most outstanding player Candace Parker, defeated No. 8 seed Pitt 68-54 in the second round.

In the 2002 men's tournament, Pitt played first and second round games at Mellon Arena. The Panthers, seeded No. 3 in the East under Ben Howland, defeated No. 14 seed Central Connecticut State 71-54 and No. 6 seed California 63-50 in front of their home fans. The Panthers were upset by No. 10 seed Kent State 78-73 in the regional semifinals in Lexington, Ky.

Pittsburgh may be best remembered in NCAA Tournament history as the site of Coppin State's 68-54 upset win over South Carolina in a first round East region game at Mellon Arena. It was only the third time that a No. 2 seed defeated a No. 15 seed, which has occurred four times overall. Coppin State entered the game as 30-point underdogs, but wasn't able to continue the magic, losing to No. 10 Texas, 82-81, in the second round.

Under NCAA men's tournament rules, Pitt is eligible to play tournament games at Consol Energy Center because it didn't play three games there during the regular season. However, the Panthers have struggled this season and it's uncertain if they will secure a tournament bid.

Duquesne isn't eligible to play in NCAA men's tournament games at Consol Energy Center because it's the host school. The Dukes would have to play at one of the other seven sub-regional sites hosting second and third round games.

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