The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team entered its conference schedule with only one blemish, a quality loss to the undefeated Michigan Wolverines. Although the team has played a mostly soft schedule, Pitt was easily handling its foes and was a ranked program.
In its twelve wins so far, the Panthers are beating up on teams by averaging over 26 points per win.
They won their season openers against Mount St. Mary’s and Fordham by over 30 points, outscored Delaware by 26 points, and dispensed both North Florida and Bethune-Cookman by over 40 points. They won an overtime squeaker against Oakland and their lone loss before conference play was a five-point letdown against a top-ranked Michigan team.
Enter a much different beast that is Big East conference play. In a home contest at the Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh came out swinging and had accumulated an eight-point lead at the half. Although they shot an overall better percentage from the field than the Bearcats, the Panthers left ten points at the foul line and were outscored by seventeen in the second half. Cincinnati has beaten Pitt two years in a row.
Next came a loss on the road at Rutgers. Down by fourteen at the half in the well-known Rutgers Athletic Center, Pitt’s five-point loss coincided with their number of missed free throws. The back-to-back losses assured their No. 24 ranking would no longer exist come Monday.
The Panthers go on the road again tonight against the No. 19 Georgetown Hoyas who are also winless in conference play so far. Following this tough road challenge are games against Marquette, Villanova and Connecticut and then contests against Providence and DePaul. No game should be overlooked in the Big East this year as all teams are above .500 playing through early January.