Pitt vs. # 10 Louisville Preview
Roger SinClair, Sports Staff
Louisville (15-3) heads to the Peterson Event Center on Sunday coming off loses in two of their last three games, while the Pitt Panthers (13-6) are still licking their wounds from an embarrassing loss at Duke on Monday night.
After a loss to Clemson, the Panthers seemed to be hitting their stride with two straight home wins against ACC opponents. However, any momentum that was built up was shattered on Monday with a 79-65 loss to Duke. Defensively, Pitt looked terrible and the Cardinals will most likely not have trouble putting up points. One positive factor for the Panthers is Jamel Artis, who has played excellent the past three games. Artis scored a career high 21 points last game, and I believe he’ll continue to get the ball and be productive.
But the defensive woes of Pitt will continue and fans on Sunday will see why the Panthers desperately need a true Center on this squad. I’d never count out the Oakland Zoo to be a huge actor in this game; unfortunately it won’t be enough to overcome a lack of size and defensive effort for the Panthers.
Louisville 60, Pitt 55
Kevin Wheeler, Sports Director
Pitt’s increased effort on the floor as of late gives me good reason to try and believe in this team in arguably the biggest game of their season to this point. They sit just one game behind No. 10 Louisville in the ACC standings, but that’s not why this game will prove to be a big one.
The Panthers have the perfect opportunity to gain some confidence and to give themselves a signature win on the season. Nothing sticks out to the tournament committee more than a victory over a top-10 opponent. Nothing will give this Pitt team the confidence boost they need more than beating Rick Pitino and the Cardinals. If the Panthers cannot get up for this game and leave everything they have on the floor, then they will surely lose when the clock hits zero.
Louisville is experienced, fast and intense on both sides of the basketball. Pitino knows that Pitt is weak in handling full-court pressure defense, so I would be surprised if we don’t see the Cardinals press early and often to try and gain some momentum on the road and silence the Oakland Zoo. It is imperative that Pitt gets off to a fast start and keeps Louisville close. If the Cardinals can open up a big lead early, consider it over.
Pitt lacks size and aggressiveness down low and the big boys will have to play much bigger than they are. Containing Montrezl Harrell on the offensive boards is a tall task, but it must be done if the Panthers have any chance of pulling off an upset. Louisville shoots under 30% from beyond the three-point stripe, which plays in Pitt’s favor. Pitt will need to play tough perimeter defense and make sure Louisville doesn’t get clean looks at the rim. If they do that, along will controlling the boards and handling the Louisville pressure, they will have a shot to pull off their signature win.
But I think the Cardinals are too much for Pitt to handle, and the Oakland Zoo’s support won’t be enough to push the Panthers to victory.
Louisville 75, Pitt 61
Don Stuart, Sports Staff
In what looks to be one of the biggest games of the year at the Peterson Events Center, Louisville will bring it’s dominant squad to Pittsburgh and take on the average Panthers. The Zoo will surely be lined up outside hours before tip. Pitt is in the middle of a tough stretch coming off a lopsided loss against Duke and Mike Krzyzewski and now having to face another ACC powerhouse and great coach in Rick Pitino.
The Cardinals come in after losing two out of there last three, there most recent also being against Duke. They are 3-2 in the ACC, but Pitt only lies one game behind them in the loss column sitting at 3-3 in the conference. Pitt is a very average basketball team with an above average coach in Jamie Dixon who can lead them to some big wins. He has won a lot of big games in his career and this is definitely a big one with Louisville being arguably the toughest team to visit the Pete this season. When they play team basketball and spread the ball around on offense, they look like a solid team, but they have struggled with turnovers at times this year. A major key for Pitt is to play good perimeter defense. They gave up countless wide open threes against Duke and this Louisville team loves to shoot threes.
I would love to pick Pitt in this one, but I wouldn’t put any money on them. Louisville, like Duke is clearly a superior team and the fact is Pitt just doesn’t have the talent to compete with them at this time. I think it will be closer than people think because Pitt does not get blown out at home. They have one of the best student sections in college basketball and the Zoo will definitely be loud and proud tomorrow with the national TV coverage. This is a huge game for the Panthers and to have any shot at the tournament they will need to pull off the upset. Look for players like James Robinson and Cam Wright to step up tomorrow since they have been in a lot big games before and won’t be fazed by this one
Louisville 63, Pitt 52