The No. 5 Pitt Panthers open a season full of high expectations tonight at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center against Rhode Island in the 2K Sports Classic.

The Rams, picked fifth in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll, are coming off a 21-13 (7-9 A-10) season and are in a bit of a rebuilding mode. Let’s take a look at how Pitt and Rhode Island match up against each other for tonight’s game…

Rhode Island has some newcomers that it needs to step up to be successful this season. More importantly, it will need that talent to make a seamless and instant transition to give the Rams a chance at upsetting the Panthers.

That will be nearly impossible according to history. Pitt is 132-11 all time at the Pete and 75-1 in non-conference games.

Along with that, Rhode Island has lost 22 consecutive games against ranked opponents. That streak goes all the way back to 1998.

With post-season games included, Rhode Island finished 26-10 overall, advancing to the semifinals of the NIT. Three starters return, most notably Delroy James, who averaged 13.2 points per game and 5.3 rebounds a game.

Probable Pitt starters:

(G) Ashton Gibbs
(G) Brad Wannamaker
(SF) Gilbert Brown
(PF) Talib Zanna
(C) Gary McGhee

Last time they met:

Pitt defeated the Rams on the road, 87-71, on Dec. 21, 2002. The Panthers are 5-1 all time against Rhode Island, winning the last five.

Season Rankings:

Pitt is No. 5 nationally in the AP poll and No. 4 in the ESPN poll. The Panthers were picked to win the Big East. Rhode Island is unranked and was selected fifth in the A-10 preseason poll.


Jamie Dixon: 188-54 at Pitt (12th season). Jim Baron: 157-128 at Rhode Island (10th season), 363-330 for his career (24 years).

Pre-game stat:

To add to Pitt’s home dominance, the Panthers are currently riding a 47-game winning streak against non-conference opponents at the Pete. Also, they have won 96 of the last 97 regular season home games against non-conference foes.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog

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