One Final Brawl

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

A series that dates back to 1917 and 183 all-time meetings, Pitt and West Virginia battle one last time as Big East foes. With both schools heading for new conferences, it's unknown if and when the two teams will play again.

Thursday night's matchup between Pitt and West Virginia will be a hard-fought game as it has been for the previous 183 meetings. It's also the last meeting between the two schools, with the announcement this week that West Virginia will be heading to the Big 12.

The two schools remained rivals while both members of the Eastern 8 from 1976-1982, then remained an annual game as Pitt joined the Big East and West Virginia went to the Atlantic 10. The Mountaineers joined the Big East as a basketball member in 1995, where they have faced the Panthers twice a year, and in a two cases three times a year, meeting in the Big East Tournament.

There have been many close battles, especially in recent years. Ronald Ramon's game-winning three-pointer in 2008 will always be a memorable one. Pitt's furious comeback just two years ago that resulted in a three-overtime game, is another. The players have also become familiar with each other playing in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am league.

Players like Nasir Robinson always look forward to the West Virginia game, whether it's in Pittsburgh or Morgantown.

"It's been going on for a long time," Robinson said. "It's going to hurt when they move to the Big 12. I wish they could stay. I'm not going to be there. I think they should keep it (in the Big East), but they're moving on, and good luck to them.

"You get out there, it's physical, every possession counts every game. Both teams play their hearts out. It becomes real competitive."

Even sophomore J.J. Moore, who has played in just three West Virginia games, already has a feel for how intense the rivalry is.

"It's out of our hands," Moore said. "I love how we played. It was a good rivalry. Hopefully we can get them back (on the schedule)."

The two teams playing in separate conferences is not a new thing. Both schools were in the Eastern 8 Conference from 1976-1982. Pitt moved into the Big East for the 1982-83 season, but the two teams still met every year. West Virginia moved into the Atlantic-10, then into the Big East. Pitt beat the Mountaineers just once in Morgantown between February of 1978 and January of 1996, a span where Pitt went 1-9 in road games. The lone win came in December of 1987. Pitt won the first meeting with both schools as members of the Big East in January of 1996.

In recent years, Pitt has gained the edge. Pitt is 17-7 against Mountaineers since 2001, has won 10 of the last 11 meetings in Pittsburgh and has won four in a row. The last four meetings have been decided by six points or less.

Jamie Dixon said he wouldn't be opposed to the series continuing as a non-conference matchup, but has also said that his 2012-13 non-conference schedule is pretty much done.

"A lot of things going on," Dixon said. "We'll see where it goes from there. We'll see what happens where we end up. It's been a great experience for us. I'm not the guy who makes all the decisions."

Pitt-West Virginia By The Numbers
Games Played: 183
Series Record: 88-95
In Pittsburgh: 56-32
In Morgantown: 30-61
Neutral Site: 2-2
Madison Square Garden: 1-1
Petersen Events Center: 7-1
Fitzgerald Field House: 21-20
West Virginia Coliseum: 10-24
Civic Arena: 1-1
Overtime: 2-7
Double-Overtime: 0-1
Triple-Overtime: 1-0
Big East: 19-10
Big East Tournament: 1-1
Eastern 8 Tournament: 1-0
One-Point Games: 5-7
Two-Point Games: 8-5
Games Decided By Five Points Or Less: 56
Most Points Scored By Pitt: 98 (98-95 3OT win in 2010)
Most Points Scored By West Virginia: 107 (107-93 loss in 1957)
Largest Margin Of Victory By Pitt: 36 (82-46 win in 2003)
Largest Margin Of Victory By West Virginia: 40 (103-63 loss in 1966)
Most Consecutive Wins By Pitt: 9 (1/17/31-1/26/35)
Most Consecutive Losses By Pitt: 13 (1/8/57-2/2/63)
Last 10 Meetings: 7-3
Last 20 Meetings: 14-6

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