Pitt vs. No. 2 Virginia Preview
Siva Sundaram, Staff
The University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball team (17-9, 6-6 ACC) will face number 2 ranked Virginia (23-1, 11-1 ACC) Monday night in Charlottesville Virginia with the tipoff set for 7 p.m. ET. This match up will complete what has been a three game stretch against teams in the top 15 of the AP and USA Today rankings. Pitt is coming off a monstrous 89-76 victory against 12thranked UNC at the Peterson Events Center. Putting up a season high in points scored, the Pitt offense looked virtually unstoppable. However, this game against Virginia will be no easy task for the Pitt offense as the Cavaliers are number one in the country in scoring defense (50.9 points per game). One thing to note is that Virginia will still be without guard Justin Anderson as he has a fractured finger on his left hand. Without Anderson in the past two games three point shooting percentage and offensive production has dropped significantly. This will play into an advantage for Pitt. Overall, I believe that Pitt will put up a great fight but come up short against a very talented UVA defensive unit that plays lights out at home.
Virginia 62, Pitt 56
Tyler Turner, Staff
What a way to go into the Virginia game for Pitt. Beating the University of North Carolina on Saturday was a signature win that could catapult this team into the NCAA tournament. The panthers dominated UNC all on areas of the floor, shooting a ridiculous 65% from the field. Pitt’s offense has been on fire lately, allowing them to win close games against Syracuse and demolish opponents like they did against UNC.
Virginia comes into Monday’s contest having lost just 1 game this year and being ranked number one in the nation only allowing 50.9 points per game. The cavaliers gave up just 28 points a few weeks ago to GT, and shut down the Louisville Cardinals only allowing 47 points. With all that being said UVA isn’t at full strength with Justin Anderson being out for a few more weeks. Not to mention Virginia barely beat a 12-14 Wake Forest team, only winning by one point, 61-60.
Pitt needs to be very careful on Monday night. After the solid win against Notre Dame Pitt came out flat against a weak Bryant team. If Pitt wants to beat UVA, they must shoot the ball well and make there free throws. How Pitt can shoot 65% from the field with hands in their face, but not make easy free throws is bewildering. Nevertheless Pitt has to play extremely well on offense because this Virginia team isn’t known for their scoring.
The University of Pittsburgh Panthers will defeat Virginia in convincing fashion. Pitt’s game is starting to come together and if they can stay focused this team can upset the number two team in the nation and secure it’s spot in the NCAA tournament.
Pitt 67, Virginia 61
Bobby Sable, Staff
The Panthers are coming off an offensive performance straight out of a video game shooting 64.9% from the field and dishing out 30 assists on 37 field goals against North Carolina on Saturday, but the Cavaliers are a force to be reckoned with defensively. Only the Kentucky Wildcats hold teams to a lower field goal percentage than Virginia’s 35.8%. Virginia will stall Pitt’s offense but the issue is whether or not they will be able to score themselves. Sharpshooter Justin Anderson will be out yet again and his 48.4% three point shooting percentage will certainly be missed. However, despite the Panthers coming in hot and Virginia struggling through the absence of Justin Anderson, I’m going to have to go with the home team in this one.
Virginia 53, Pitt 48
Nick Rose, Staff
Pitt has been playing well of late, beating the 8th and 12th ranked teams in the country and winning three of their last four games. However, it’s no secret that a lot of the Panthers recent success has been due to the fact that they’ve been playing at home. Sure, they have beaten some top-tier teams, but they’ve done so at the Petersen Events Center, where they have the support of the Oakland Zoo and boast a 206-29 record. On the road, this team is a completely different story. Seven of Pitt’s nine losses have come away from the Pete, and they are currently on a three game road skid.
That’s just one reason why heading to Virginia will be a tough task for the Panthers. In addition to playing poorly on the road, Pitt will have to deal with Virginia’s top-ranked defense. The Cavaliers are absolutely fierce, allowing only 50.8 points per game to their opponents. Pitt has a strong offense, but they haven’t faced an opponent as defensively sound as Virginia, and I believe it will be too much for them.
In all of Pitt’s recent wins, they’ve had a particular player rise up and have a spectacular offensive performance. If Pitt is going to stand any chance in this contest, though, they are going to need at least two players to step up and have huge days offensively. I’m looking at Jamel Artis and Sheldon Jeter, who have both really come on strong for the Panthers offense in the last two weeks.
Pitt seems to have saved their best basketball for this last stretch of the season, but their inconstant play on the road and Virginia’s strong defense will not be a good combination for the Panthers.
Virginia 65, Pitt 58