Commentary

Pitt may be doomed by fouls

Tennessee's ability to get to the free throw line could be difference

Updated: December 11, 2010, 11:36 AM ET
By Matt Giles | ESPN Insider
Scotty HopsonElsa/Getty ImagesTennessee needs to get to the charity stripe early and often in order to beat Pitt.

Since Bruce Pearl took over at Tennessee, the phrase "controlled chaos" has been the keystone of Pearl's squads. The frenetic nature of the Volunteers' defensive press certainly gave opponents fits. However, the speedsters Pearl once recruited to Knoxville gave way to taller and rangier but slightly slower athletes. This led Pearl, for the past 1½ years, to refrain from his full-court press and employ a physical and so far successful half-court defense.

While this transformation may seem like a feat of genius, some of the credit should go to Maryland's Gary Williams, who Pearl said told him it is foolish to trap players at an elite level because it won't work -- in essence, the athletes are too quick.