Tonight's a very special night: Basketballmas Eve in Connecticut! By some scheduling coincidence, the UConn football team will get one more chance to impress Connecticut sports fans before basketball season starts. Tonight, the Huskies can move ever closer to getting blown out by TCU in the Fiesta Bowl with a win against Pittsburgh.
The Panthers are unbeaten in Big East play after a couple early losses (to Utah, Miami and Notre Dame). They're the only team in the league that doesn't have exactly two losses, and the BCS bid is just sitting there on a platter for them. For Pitt, a win tonight would basically mean they would need to beat two of USF, West Virginia and Cincinnati to guarantee a spot in a big-money bowl.
So what's on the minds of Pitt supporters these days? To find out, we did a Q&A with Cardiac Hill, one of the new kids on the SBNation block. My answers to his questions are also up there.
We chatted about Greg Romeus, a man named Tino and what exactly Pitt sees in Dave Wannstedt. Check it out below the jump:
KM: The Panthers have put together three impressive wins in Big East play after a...somewhat lackluster non-conference schedule. Besides the Big East being aggressively terrible, what's been the most important factor in Pitt's turnaround over the last three weeks?
Romeus' injury looked like it could be a big blow to the team at the time he went down, but Brandon Lindsey has been incredible. His eight sacks are second in the Big East (behind teammate Jabaal Sheard) and with Sheard, they've both been able to put a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. Lindsey may not be as good as Romeus, though. Sheard's been out of his mind and I think Lindsey's been the beneficiary of that. So when Romeus is fullly back, he'll eventually get to start. But they're going to have to find room for Lindsey to get in there as well because he's been too productive.
KM: Is it basically going to be the Tino Sunseri show at the quarterback position for the next 2+ years? Is this a good thing for Pitt? How would you assess his play in the first full year as a starter?
KM: It seems like an annual tradition that Pitt is picked near or at the top of the Big East, and then it never pans out. Are Pitt fans waiting for the other shoe to drop, or is there confidence that this is the team that can get it done?
KM: How much pressure is on Wannstedt this season? With a two-game lead on the other seven teams and four games to play, is it basically now or never for the Big East's most-mustachioed hero?
All of these things, individually, aren't reasons to keep a coach around. But when said coach has a decent track record, even if he underachieves a little along the way, I think are a big reason why they want to keep him.
KM: Finally, let's get a game prediction and a score...
CH: Pitt traditionally doesn't play well under Wannstedt the week after a bye for some reason, but I think they'll be focused. They know the conference championship is in reach and even though they've underachieved to this point, knowing that they hold all the cards has to motivate them somewhat. I said over at SB Nation Pittsburgh that Pitt would win 30-17, so I'll stick with that.
But trust me, the way the conference has been this season, playing on the road during a weeknight game, I completely wouldn't be all that surprised if Pitt can't get it done. I think we'll learn a lot more about this team after Thursday's game.
Thanks to Cardiac Hill, and make sure to check them out for your Pitt-related needs. We'll plan on doing this again before the Big East hoops opener on Dec. 27.