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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Could Pitt possibly dance?

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MUNCIE, Ind. – Brief and to the Point …

>> I’m getting way ahead of things, but listening to Pitt beat West Virginia last night on the long drive here — thanks to the miracle of XM Radio — I can’t help but at least pose the question: What it would take for the Panthers to get into the NCAA tournament?

Yeah, I know there’s an obvious answer: Win the Big East at the Garden. But I’m talking at-large.

Pitt is 14-9 overall, 3-7 in conference. The latter still looks terrible, but the committee absolutely considers teams that get better as the season goes. Think UConn last year and its resultant seeding. Take a look at Pitt’s upcoming schedule. South Florida is the conference’s surprise team, but Villanova and Seton Hall have losing records. And a rematch with West Virginia follows, only at the Pete.

Again, I know this is getting way ahead, but taking all four games — not unthinkable — not only gives Pitt a .500 conference record but an impressive overall record and, most important, the appearance that the eight-game losing streak was merely a fluke caused by the absence of Tray Woodall.

>> Woodall is the Peyton Manning of college basketball. Look at the Panthers with and without him.

>> Sidney Crosby skated yesterday, and you’d think the Internet was going to burst with this news.

To recap for the many who clearly weren’t paying attention:

1. Crosby was cleared to skate Jan. 13 in Sunrise, Fla., and he has been doing so regularly ever since.

2. Crosby did not sustain a BROKEN NECK over the weekend. That’s just when we all learned that it might have happened 13 months ago.

Now, back to your regularly programmed hysteria.

>> I have strong feelings about the Penguins’ opponent tonight. Scroll down the Twitter timeline a bit.

>> Nyjer Morgan, formerly a single personality who played for the Pirates, once was a junior hockey player in Canada’s WHL. He’ll get to live out a dream by practicing with the Sharks tomorrow.

My Twitter challenge to Mr. Plush: “Hey, Nyj, go up to the biggest dude on the ice and call him “Alberta.” He’ll think you’re talking about his native province!”

I’ve yet to hear back.

>> If Keith Butler does, in fact, return to be the Steelers’ linebackers coach next season, he’d better have at least received a firm handshake promising him he’ll be defensive coordinator once Dick LeBeau, now 75, retires. Actually, I’d be stunned if that didn’t already happen. Totally implausible to think Butler would have turned down a coordinator opportunity otherwise.

On a related note, 2012 almost surely will be LeBeau’s final year.

>> Tony Sanchez completes a hat trick of broken jaws. I can tell you that the Pirates had better see something highly promising out of this young man soon.

>> I’m here covering the Super Bowl all week and seriously looking forward to it.

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