George Washington seeks its first Eastern Eight conference victory tonight in an 8 o'clock game at Pittsburgh.
The matchup of these two-time losers highlights a basketball schedule that also finds Howard (7-4) and Navy (6-2) on the road, facing tough assignments at Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth, respectively.
The only area Division I team at home tonight is Catholic (3-7), seeking its second win in a row as it faces St. Anselm's, a Division III school from Manchester, N.H.
All three Washington-area teams on the road are expected to face uphill struggles.
GW (5-2 overall, 0-1 in the Eastern Eight) will be facing a Pittsburgh team (8-2-0) that has lost only to fifth-ranked Syracuse and to Cincinnati, the latter on a 35-footer at the buzzer. The Panthers are a physical team personified by 6-foot-6, 250-pound center Sam Clancy, who is rounding into shape after suffering from an undiagnosed illness.
Clancy leads the Eastern Eight in rebounding, with 6-7 teammate Sammie Ellis second. Ellis leads Pitt in scoring with a 19.7 average, but he is not expected to play tonight because of an ankle injury.
The surprising aspect of GW's 5-2 record is that the Colonials have accomplished it while 6-10 center Mike Zagardo, all-conference last year, is slowly rounding into form after missing most preseason workouts with an ankle injury. Zagardo is taking an average of only seven shots a game, yet is averaging 12 points.
The play of point guard Curtis Jeffries plus sizable contributions by such newcomers as junior-college transfer Curtis Smith, who will start again at small forward tonight, and freshmen Randy Davis and Oscar Wilmington have buoyed the team.
However, the Colonials have not rebounded as well as in past seasons and this may hurt their chances of an upset.
Howard recently broke a three-game losing streak. Tonight's 8:15 game at Dayton is a step out of the Bison's class, but Coach A. B. Williamson feels his team can win if it plays at its peak.
Navy, which won its first tournament in nine years last week, will see how its perimeter shooting and the improved play of senior center John Geshay, a 2.9-career scorer until this season, holds up against a VCU team that is adjusting to the loss of Coach Dale Kirk to Memphis State prior to the season.