Two of the top teams in the Big East will meet in the Steel City to wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon, as the Pitt Panthers tango with the Villanova Wildcats.

Second Straight Season of Failure Down the Stretch

Boy, is it really hard right now to be supportive of Head Coach Jay Wright. The Villanova Wildcats looked to be well on its way to challenge for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament last year before hitting the skids with just a handful of games to play. The end result was a quick exit from the Big East Tournament, a near miss in a game against the American Eagles which almost proved to be one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA Tournament, and one final thud in the loss to the No. 10 St. Mary's Gaels.

Are we looking at the same sort of path this year?

The Wildcats have been atrocious of late, losing three in a row and seven out of 11, and there is only one win in that stretch against a team that is certainly going to be in the NCAA Tournament, and that's the one against the West Virginia Mountaineers at home on February 5. The team also hasn't beaten the NCAA basketball odds in a clash since that date with WVU, going 0-7 ATS since then.

Cats Clawing for a Top Seed

Pittsburgh PanthersHead Coach Jamie Dixon knew that this team really had the potential to be special this year. The Pittsburgh Panthers have survived some iffy games and a minor injury to superstar Ashton Gibbs, and now, most feel that a win in this game and 1-2 more in the Big East Tournament will leave them on the top line in the NCAA Tournament.

There are plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the court. Gibbs, for example, is scoring 16.3 PPG and is shooting a whopping 46.8 percent from beyond the arc on the campaign. Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown are combining for 23.3 PPG, while Nasir Robinson and Gary McGhee are both making solid contributions on the inside.

The key though, is defense. This is a team that is allowing just 60.8 PPG this year, and teams aren't even shooting 40.0 percent from the field for the season either. The last time the Panthers allowed more than 66 points in a game was back on January 8, and even though there are indeed three losses in that stretch since that point, Dixon knows that that type of defensive intensity is going to win a heck of a lot of ball games.

Panther Pride Should Beat NCAA Basketball Lines on Saturday

This game is no exception for U-Pitt. The Panthers already have one win in this series this year, winning in the City of Brotherly Love back on February 12 57-54 in a brutal clash of defensive wills.

The Wildcats are just 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games overall, all of which have come in the Big East. They are also just 2-6 ATS over the course of the last eight in this series.

The betting odds makers have clearly put the Pittsburgh Panthers on the right side for today's Saturday. They'll use that defensive pressure that we have come to know and love to dispose of a reeling Villanova squad, and they'll carry a ton of momentum into the Big East Tournament as the top seed next week.