WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

The No. 18 West Virginia Mountaineers (8-1) renew their greatest rivalry Saturday when they travel up the road to the Petersen Events Center to take on former Big East opponent Pittsburgh (5-4).

It’s the first meeting between the two clubs since 2012, and the first of a four-game home-and-home series that was signed into place last year.

Pittsburgh will host Saturday and in 2019, West Virginia will play host in 2018 and 2020 leading into the revitalization of the Backyard Brawl on the gridiron at Heinz Field the following year.

It’s the 185th installment of the Brawl on the hardcourt. Here are some notes heading into the matchup.

Series Overview

WVU leads the series all-time 96-88, winning the most recent meeting 66-48 on February 16, 2012.

The nearly six-year gap between matchups is the longest in the series since the two teams didn’t play each other at all between 1908 and 1914.

Neither team has fared well on the road in the series. West Virginia is just 35-56 in Pittsburgh, and just 2-7 at the Petersen Events Center. The Mountaineers have dropped six of the last seven at Pitt.

Overall, the Panthers have won six of the last ten matchups and 16 of the most-recent 23.

Huggins vs. Pitt

Legendary head coach Bob Huggins hasn’t had the greatest success against the Panthers.

Huggins has a 4-9 record overall against Pittsburgh, and is just 4-7 as the head coach of the Mountaineers.

WVU vs. the ACC

WVU has won the last four games against ACC opponents. Going back further, West Virginia has won seven of the last eight and 17 of the last 21 games against teams form the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Pittsburgh this season

The Panthers are just a game over .500 this season, but have won each of the last four contests.

Head coach Kevin Stallings has a trio of players averaging at least 12 points per game, led by Jared Wilson-Frame at 12.9 points per.

Ryan Luther may be the Panthers’ best all-around player, entering Saturday’s game averaging 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Biggest years in the Series History 

Two of the biggest years in the series’ history occurred in 1970 and 1982.

Biggest Years in Season History

  • 1970 meetings:
    • at Pitt – Pitt student throws a dead fish onto the court while WVU’s Will Robinson was about to shoot free throws.
    • at WVU – WVU  was looking to close out the old Field House on a positive note. Instead Pitt erases 19-point deficit to win 92-87 and cancel the WVU celebration.
  • 1982 meetings:
    • There was reportedly extra intensity that year due to it being Pitt’s last in the Eastern 8 Conference, about to leave for the Big East, which WVU wouldn’t join until 1995.
    • at Pitt: Lane violation negates late Pitt basket, WVU wins 48-45
    • at WVU: WVU outlasts Pitt 82-77 before largest crowd in Coliseum history. Officially 16,704 fans packed inside, though it was likely 17,000 at least.
    • The two teams then met 10 days later in Eastern 8 Conf. title game
      • WVU had won 23 games in a row, and was ranked No. 9 in country. Pitt won the game in upset fashion.