Pitt at Wake Forest Preview
Tyler Turner, Staff
Pitt travels to North Carolina this week, to take on Wake Forest for the third time in school history. The Panthers lead the series 2-0, winning both games last year by at least 15 points. Jamie Dixon and the Panthers sit at 19-10 overall and 8-7 in the ACC, with an opportunity to make it to the NCAA Tournament; however they must win out and can not afford to lose to a team like Wake Forest.
Wake Forest is coming off a 70-34 demoralizing loss against #2 Virginia, while Pitt comes clawing into Winston Salem after a 71-65 win over Boston College. The Demon Deacons shot a horrendous 21.8% against the Cavaliers on Wednesday and committed 13 turnovers. While Pitt’s defense is nowhere near as good as UVA, Pitt should be able to handle Wake’s offense who ranks 121st in the nation in points scored per game.
Jamel Artis and Mike Young had a day against BC both scoring over 20 points and gathering 8+ rebounds. The dynamic duo, Artis and Young, should have just as much success against the Demon Deacons defense that allows over 70 points a game.
Pitt should be able to handle Wake as they will win easy. We’ve seen Chris Jones, Sheldon Jeter and Aron Phillips-Nwankwo all have big games to propel Pitt to victory; however this time look to the senior Cam Wright to go off. I see Wright scoring 21 with 6 rebounds and 10 assists, putting the team on his back as Pitt walks out of Lawrence Joel Coliseum with a win.
Pitt 78, Wake Forest 67
Bobby Sable, Staff
The Pittsburgh Panthers are coming into their game against Wake Forest like a raw piece of chicken that’s finally starting to get white in the middle. I guess you could say that it’s almost, kind of, sort of, maybe? coming together. The Panthers have won three of their last four and six of their last eight and are positioned to make the tournament if they win out. That being said, they only beat Boston College, the team my good friend says, “the ACC should just get rid of”, by six points and had a poor showing against Louisville and an even worse first half against Virginia during that span.
Wake Forrest, a bottom feeder of the ACC, has performed relatively well at home this year. In ACC play they have compiled a 4-4 record at home without a loss against an unranked opponent. Their real wildcard in terms of play is Devin Thomas who in his last three games has had 2 points and 4 rebounds, 26 points and 11 rebounds and 3 points and 5 rebounds respectively.
The Demon Deacons are a different team when he gets going but with numbers as volatile as his it’s pretty hard to predict his performance. If the Panthers are going to win this game they are going to need to stop Thomas and have Jamel Artis continue to play like a man amongst boys. I think they will however and I am taking the Panthers in this one.
Pitt 74, Wake Forest 64
Nick Rose, Staff
Pitt is playing with a sense of urgency down the stretch. They know that due to their shaky start, every one of their last few games is a must-win. According to ESPN’s analysts, as of right now, Pitt is one of the teams sitting just outside the bubble. So, a loss against 12-16 Wake Forrest could really put the Panthers out of contention.
Pitt has a much better record at home than on the road. However, a lot of their road losses came against some of college basketball’s best teams, such as Virginia, Duke, and Louisville. Wake Forrest is certainly a far cry from those programs. They are much better at rebounding than Pitt, coming into the game ranked 17th in the nation. The Panthers outclass them in nearly every other category, though, and Jamie Dixon will surely have his team fired up and prepared for a conference game that they can’t afford to lose.
My key player to watch for this game is Michael Young. Forced into the big man role due to Pitt’s lack of a true center, he has struggled to box out against some of the conference’s better rebounders. For this contest, he will have to deal with Devin Thomas, who is the Demon Deacons leading rebounder with over nine per game. It will be a tough task, but Young has stepped up his rebounding game of late, as we saw in the Boston College game. Aside from that, Pitt is a far superior shooting team, and I don’t think Wake Forrest has the defense to cool off the Panthers hot streak.
Pitt 74, Wake Forest 66