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Is opening weekend a bad omen for Pitt?

| Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are two tight games in the opening weekend a good omen or bad omen for the NCAA Tournament?

Historically, it's not the best way to start a potential run to the Final Four.

Since the field expanded to 65 teams, only nine of the 96 teams to reach the Final Four had close calls (10 points or fewer) in each of their first two games. The most recent was George Mason in 2006. Only three of the past 24 national champions lacked at least one comfortable victory — more than 10 points — in the opening weekend. They were Arizona in 1997, Michigan in 1989 and Villanova in 1985.

The players believe in the old adage "survive and advance."

"It's just about getting it done and finding ways to win," Pitt guard Levance Fields said. "We had two tough games, but in both games we found a way to win."

• Pitt coach Jamie Dixon will speak to fellow Big East coach Mick Cronin of Cincinnati for some tidbits on Xavier. Cincinnati fell to city rival Xavier, 76-66, in mid-December.

"Mick knows the game, and he's a good friend," Dixon said.

Xavier coach Sean Miller, meanwhile, didn't expect any help from Big East coaches.

"There is a lot of loyalty inside the Big East Conference," he said. "But we have enough film on Pitt to last us a lifetime."

• DeJuan Blair's foul trouble is a common thread in Pitt's losses. Miller said that doesn't mean you can do anything about it.

"Clearly that is a big part of what Pitt has shown — when they are at their best and when they aren't," he said. "We will see. But I don't think you can go into the game thinking it's going to happen."

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