The Panthers are coming home for their first home game in 11 days. You get the feeling that they’re happy to be home. The Panthers had a tremendous time away, notching solid wins against rival WVU in the Backyard Brawl, and snapping Villanova’s 46 game win streak at the Pavilion on Gameday. The Panthers have spent the season never really in the discussion to be considered the best team in America. With those two quality road wins without the fanciest dresser on our team, however, they are starting to gain some attention. They nabbed a couple of #1 votes in the AP poll (6) and 1 #1 vote in the coaches. There is even some talk of this team garnering the #1 overall seed. (That might be the funniest picture I’ve ever seen of Gil Brown). Some seem to think that Pitt still doesn’t have the stuff to make the Final Four. (Doug Gottlieb definitely garnered a few “fans” in Pittsburgh over the past few days). The general feeling after the ‘Nova win seemed to be one of sheer elation. I wrote in the pre-game that I thought that game was bigger for ‘Nova than it was for Pitt. When the team finally did pull out the win, though, I couldn’t help but feel this win meant A LOT. It was a BE road win aganst what many would consider a big rival in front of the whole country. The significance of the road win was magnified after Ohio State went down at Madison, and Kansas lost Monday night. I think the toughest part of the road is behind us, but we still have some big games down the line including at St John’s and at Louisville. The odds would look very good for Pitt if it could finish undefeated on the road. There are still quite a few games left. We still get the Hoopies and Nova at home. I’m excited to see the Zoo for those games. When the big games come up, the Zoo certainly steps up. By the way, here are some real nice highlights from the two games on the road. The videos Panther Sports Network did used to be just alright, but the past couple have really stepped it up in quality and the shots they are getting are great. Check it out:
Tonight the Panthers take on the USF Bulls. USF is almost (keyword being almost) as bad as Depaul. I’m really not going to do too much analysis for this game. The Panthers should simply not lose this game. Gibbs will most likely not play tonight, making his return at MSG against St. John’s most likely. A few people have said they’d like for Gibbs to get some playing time before what will most likely be a tough game at St. John’s. Gibbs has been practicing and shooting though, so it might not be too bad. USF is a good game for him to sit out. The Bulls are 200th or worse in points per game (309th!), assists per game, and field goal percentage. They’re 55th in rebounding though! The Bulls play 11 different people per game for 6 minutes or more. That’s insane. Every player but one has played in 20 games or more, and that one player only played a single game. The Bulls have not be able to find any production from the point guard position, which is probably the main reason these guys can’t seem to score. They get solid production from Augustus Gilchrist (11.9 pts/game, 6.7 rebs/game), but he can’t do everything himself. He also went 1 for 10 against Notre Dame in their last game. Ouch. I will give the Bulls credit for nabbing a game against Pitt last year down in South Florida. They had a first-round talent in Dominique Jones though, and he’s no longer around. USF relied on him for too long, and now that he’s gone they can’t seem to figure things out. This should be a fairly uneventful game, as USF is not really playing for anything more than pride at this point. No NCAA birth, no Big East tourney bye, no winning season. Pitt just needs to win and then set its eyes on St John’s on Saturday.
I’ll be tweeting (@Sta7ic) from the Zoo during the game, along with @OaklandZoo. Hail to Pitt.