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Notes from XL Center in Hartford

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Notes from downtown Hartford in the moments leading to tonight’s showdown between No. 4 Pittsburgh (23-2, 10-2) and No. 1 Connecticut (24-1, 12-1).

· Scalpers outside the XL Center were asking as much as $350 per ticket. There are reporters from at least 24 newspapers, magazines and Web sites, as well as nearly 20 NBA scouts and, of course, the entire ESPN contingent.

· I ran into Nasir Robinson’s coach at Chester High School, Fred Pickett, in the lobby. He said that Robinson’s younger brother, Kareem, shot twice in the back in a random shooting in Chester last week, continues to improve.

“A full recovery,” Pickett said.

One of the bullets, which missed Robinson’s spine by less than an inch, will not be removed, Pickett said.

· About 80 minutes before tip, UConn center Hasheem Thabeet made his way through a lobby crowded with fans waiting for the gates to open. No one said much of a word — they mainly just stared — as the 7-foot-3 Thabett made his way to an escalator and went down to the player’s locker rooms.

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