College Basketball Pick
One team that continues to fly under the radar, even playing in the ACC, is Pittsburgh. The Panthers didn’t get much respect because they lost their only difficult non-Conference Game (vs. Purdue) and didn’t really beat anyone else worth a mention. However, off a road win at Notre Dame, it might be time to change the perception of this team.
A win at Louisville would be even more impressive. Of course, it will also be much harder — maybe Pitt’s hardest Game to date. It doesn’t help that Louisville is coming off a loss, its third of the season. The Cardinals may have a worse record, but all three of their losses have come on the road, two of them against ranked teams. Their most recent loss at Clemson was surprising, but that’s the kind of thing that happens in the ACC if you don’t come to play every Game.
Pitt already has 14 wins, something they didn’t reach last year before also having eight losses. These teams played twice last year with Louisville coming out on top by double digits both times. But it can be argued that Pittsburgh is better this year, while Louisville is worse, although there’s still a long way to go before finding that out.
The Cardinals weren’t expected to be much this year, but with the help of two transfers — Damion Lee and Trey Lewis — they once again look like a viable team on a national level. Those two lead the team with a combined 30 points per Game, but a lack of production elsewhere has hurt them. Center Mangok Mathiang remains out, which hurts, but Chinanu Onuaku has put in three straight double-doubles and is much improved from a year ago. But for Louisville to win those important road Games, someone like Quentin Snider has to step up and that hasn’t happened in the Cardinals’ losses.
Pittsburgh’s problem in this Game will be going against the pressure of Louisville. The level of competition they’ve played so far can’t really compare to what the Cardinals do on the defensive end. against a bigger Purdue team earlier in the year, they couldn’t do much and only scored 59 points (a step below its 85 ppg average).
At the least, the experience of Pitt’s top players will always keep them around. The trio of Michael Young, Jamel Artis and James Robinson has led the way with Young and Artis both scoring over 16 points per Game. Meanwhile, senior guard Robinson is averaging 5.4 assists and just 0.8 turnovers per Game. That’ll be huge in this Game because one thing you can’t do against Louisville is turn the ball over, especially on the road.
Sheldon Jeter is the x-factor for the Panthers in this Game. He has really turned it on as of late, scoring double figures in five straight and was a big reason (18 points) why they won at Notre Dame last Game.
To be successful in the ACC, Louisville will need more production from Trey Lewis, and that starts in this Game. He may be averaging 13.4 points per Game on the year, but only has 23 in three Conference Games and is shooting just 3-for-23 in the last two. That’s simply not good enough from your second-best scorer.
Pitt is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation because they can spread the ball around with numerous options (also Fourth in nation in assists per Game). Louisville will need consistent production from Lewis and Lee to cover this one. Otherwise, expect a grind-it-out battle for a Game that the Cardinals can’t lose at home.
PREDICTED Score- LOUISVILLE 81 PITT 71