The Panthers are looking to get back to their winning ways after a turbulent stretch of games that featured back to back losses to first ranked and previously undefeated Syracuse and unranked North Carolina.
Florida State, sitting in ninth place in the ACC, is looking for another signature win to add to their NCAA tournament resume. The Seminoles have had many opportunities to knock off top teams, losing by a combined 3 points to both Michigan and Florida. At the time, Michigan was ranked fourteenth, and Florida is currently the second ranked team.
Florida State was able to notch wins over then 22nd Massachusetts and 10th ranked Virginia Commonwealth. At 15-11 all hope for a NCAA tournament bid is certainly not lost, however with only a handful of games remaining on the calendar things are certainly getting tight.
At 20-6, Pitt would certainly be a nice win for the Seminoles’ tournament resume.
The Panthers have fallen out of the rankings and all the way to a seven seed in ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology predictions. Florida State serves as an easy matchup for the Panthers who are looking to finish the season off strong. The Panthers have an easy final five regular season games. It is not entirely improbable that the Panthers go 5-0 in their final five and finish the season up at 25-6.
In order to earn a first round bye in the ACC tournament the Panthers need to finish in the top four in the conference standings. Currently the Panthers are in the fight for a top four spot in the ACC, but in fifth place, they are on the outside looking in.
I expect the Seminoles to come out firing at the Panthers. Florida State needs to add to their tournament resume, and with the exception of a regular season finale hosting Syracuse, there are not too many opportunities for the Seminoles.
That being said I expect the Panthers, led by senior Lamar Patterson, to get back to their winning ways. You can see the frustration in seniors Patterson and Zanna’s faces. They both want to win and end their college careers on a positive note. The last two years have been uncharacteristically poor for Pitt. Patterson and Zanna want to graduate as winners.
It is very rare that a Jamie Dixon coached team will back down from a challenge. After a week of practice, I believe that this Pitt team is ready to prove themselves and start picking up some momentum as they head to the tournament.
This Pitt basketball team cannot afford to lose any more games this season; they have many critiques and have yet to prove their worth. Any more losses this season, especially to teams that they are better than, would significantly weaken their chances of earning a high seed come tournament team.
Pitt rarely loses at home, especially to a lower ranked team.
I predict that the Panthers will win by double digits. This will be a statement win for the Panthers, they will let the nation know that they are the real deal. Granted, Florida State is not an impressive victory, rather an embarrassing loss that the Panthers hope to prevent.
Tune in to ESPNU at 6:00 on Sunday to watch the ACC’s lone matchup on Sunday.