- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. Pitt plans on making a statement in its final season in the Big East by resuming its traditional role under Jamie Dixon as a title contender after last season’s NCAA miss. To tipoff the campaign, the Panthers are doing something out of the box for the more maligned Panthers by hosting a Midnight Madness event --- outside. The unique event will be a part of the school’s 225-year anniversary celebration. The men’s and women’s teams will play on a wooden outdoor floor, near the Pitt Union. Lights, bleachers and a video board will be brought in for the free event that should begin after a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. If the weather doesn’t cooperate then the teams will go inside at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers return guard Tray Woodall and add two big-time newcomers in James Robinson and Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler.
2. The NIT Season Tip-Off is still looking for a team to fill its field, affecting the final schedules of hosts Kansas State, Virginia, Michigan and Pitt. The 2K Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project and the Gotham Classic have their teams, but don't have signed contracts and that’s why teams haven't been assigned on schedules released for the host schools. The 2K Sports Classic's four hosts that will meet at Madison Square Garden Nov. 15-16 are Oregon State, Alabama, Purdue and Villanova, with the first two and latter two playing against each other in the semifinals. But the first two games of the event on the respective campus sites are still listed as TBD. The Gotham Classic is a five-team tournament with a set final of Syracuse-Temple on Dec. 22 at MSG. The three other teams haven’t been announced yet, either. Each of the five teams gets four games out of the event.
3. UCLA finished its tour of China with three wins and without Shabazz Muhammad (eligibility in question). You can’t predict what the Bruins will do until the Muhammad situation is resolved. But the final game against the Shanghai Sharks did probably lay out a road map for this team. Larry Drew II will have to produce similar assist-to-turnover ratios (6 to 1 would be welcomed) and freshmen Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson will likely take a high percentage of shots (a combined 28 in this particular game). The UCLA model for 2012-13 will be akin to what Kentucky has done, albeit not with the same talent. The Bruins will have to rely heavily on three freshmen with the need for veteran leadership at a few key spots (in this instance point guard, wing in Tyler Lamb and forward in Travis Wear).