Panthers enter heart of conference season

After finally coming home with a victory from St. John’s, the Panthers face Big East bottom-dweller, Rutgers, who are playing off a surprising upset of Villanova.

This week will be a key week for Pitt, who is currently 4-2 in conference. Today really should be an easy win against the worst team in the conference. It will be our first home game in a while and the team seemed to click pretty well in New York. I don’t see why there should be any trouble today at all, if there is, we should worry.

Next game after today is Wednesday versus Villanova. This will be an important rematch of our first conference game of the season. As one of only three teams that Pitt will play twice, it would really hurt us to lose to Nova twice. The Wildcats are still going to be a good team in the conference and we can’t afford to drop two games to them in the standings. Having been at the first game, I can say that I think we have a very good chance at winning this game. I feel that Ronald and Keith have definitely solidified their games since then and Pitt should be able to feed off the home crowd.

Next weekend Pitt travels to UConn. Just announced is that Jim Calhoun, the UConn coach, has suspended two key players indefinitely for “breaking team rules.” Indefinitely is a hard word to judge, but I think it usually means more than one week, so we have that in our favor. UConn definitely isn’t the national champion of a few years ago since they have struggled mightily for the past two seasons. They did however take Georgetown down to the wire only to lose to a Hibbert 3-pointer, which is just about the worst way to possibly lose a game. This game would be a close one, maybe not as close as the Villanova matchup though, except now that they have two players out of the lineup. I think Pitt will be able to capitalize on that and bring home another important road-win.

There are just under three weeks remaining until Fields’ expected return at Marquette. This will be a pretty huge week for how the Panthers will end their season. Standing at 4-2 in a highly competitive Big East isn’t great position. If they manage to go 3-0 this week, rising to 7-2 without Levance, they will be in excellent condition heading into the Big East Tournament. As we have been able to see, there are going to be a lot of teams fighting for the byes on the first day, and starting 7-2 is a great way to get one.

Don’t forget to collect 4 loyalty points tomorrow for the women’s matchup against Louisville. Agnus and the women are playing a heck of a season. After losing to Duke on a last second shot on December 8, the Panthers have won 9 straight games. They are currently tied for their highest ranking ever at #19 and have already won at St. John’s this week. They have a few games coming up in the next few weeks including next weekend against #5 ranked Rutgers.

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